Thursday, March 29, 2007

Turn Your Head and Cough: A Closer Look At VVM's Nuts

Why, again, did New Times gobble up the Village Voice chain? Oh, that’s right – to teach America how to publish hard-hitting, well-written, “butt-violating” investigate journalism, none of that soft alt-weekly bullshit …

But lo! As we turn our jaundiced eye to Phoenix New Times, the one that started it all, we spy a cover story on rich little girls who have really expensive birthday parties, and ooh, does it drive their moms crazy! It’s no doubt a trend, because the writer, Robrt L. Pela (what is it with these names?), uses the actual word “trend” nine times in the 4,258-word story … the 4,258-word story about little girls’ birthday parties.

Let’s take a closer look at the “nut” section of the story, wherein a well-schooled writer-editor team presents a thesis it is wholly unconfident in, but tries to pass off as "literary" and/or "important" anyway:

Poor Sarah. Poor Sarah's mom. Today, in their giant backyard, draped in 40 pounds of streamers and encircled by thousands of dollars worth of merriment1, neither is taking much pleasure in knowing that they're at the best birthday party in the great, big gated Paradise Valley community where they live. It seems unlikely that either would care at this point — as the merry-go-round starts up for the hundredth time and the pony takes an unexpected dump on Raggedy Andy's shoe2 — that they're merely the latest in a long line3 of mother-daughter duos who are feeding the current trend4 in over-the-top, over-produced kiddy birthday parties. Neither Sarah (because she's too young) nor her mom (because she's too, well, frazzled at the moment) has given any thought to how they've been feeding the multimillion-dollar industry5 that's sprung up around Sarah's desire for everything she sees on TV and, just maybe, Mom's inability to "connect intimately" with her daughter.6

It's no surprise7 that experts are horrified8 by this burgeoning business9 in ridiculously opulent birthday parties, this newish industry10 that's busting at the seams11 with more and more lavish ways12 to acknowledge the first day of Little Johnny's fourth year. It's a trend13 forwarded not just by maniacal moms with disposable incomes and no extra time, but by moms in every income bracket who feel guilty because their busy lives keep them away from their kids. It's a trend14 that the super-est Super Moms support, even though many of them would like to give a permanent time-out to the guy who invented the chains of "grown-up" (some say downright sleazy) party places they're hiring for the day, places that pour their tiny daughters into glittery cat suits and glop them with enough eyeliner and blush to choke a birthday clown.15

1. VVM math: Verbs like “draped” and “encircled” + big numbers = false urgency.
2. Sure, dear reader, this may be a story about rich little girls' birthday parties … but unnecessary references to horseshit seek to remind you that this is, in fact, an alt-weekly. Motherfucka!
3. Warning: Trend ahead!
4. What did we tell you? And it's even worse than we feared: This trend is being fed!
5. Get this trend on a diet! It’s been fed twice in the last two sentences.
6. Editor: “This is only an award-winning story if you can get to the psychology of the modern mother/daughter relationship.” Writer (thinking): “But that’s bullshit.” Solution: The phrase “just maybe.”
7. Well, at least not to this writer.
8. You can almost picture the shellshocked expression on the bearded face of the Arizona State sociology professor. Almost.
9. It’s the confident writer/editor team who must continually remind their reader(s) of just how burgeoning and overfed this trend is. It is practically bursting at the seams!
10. Okay, okay. It’s “burgeoning” but “newish.” Or, in Lame New Times Story Pitch Speak 101, "That'll fly!"
11. We swear to God: We wrote footnote 9 before getting to this part of the sentence. (It takes awhile). At least we used “practically bursting" at the seams.
12. Will this trend ever sit still?!?
13. We repeat: It's a trend.
14. At this point, you've gotta be some kind of twisted, cynical baby-eater to continue denying the existence of this trend. So just stop it, okay?
15. Sorry. Got carried away by the writing. Color us "hooked."

Jerking Hoff

An orgy of alpha male journalism battered Minneapolis on Wednesday as Kevin Hoffman, the new editor of the City Pages, unleashed extremely powerful feature writing in a cover story about a pro hockey goon. This was The Hoff's first cover since arriving in town and it was filled with all the big dick charisma we've come to expect from the rugby cut Cleveland tough. Battle-scarred knuckles. Broken jaws. English as a second language. This story had it all. But even The Hoff knows that one manly feature does not a lesbian marriage pioneer conceal, so he also sprayed his byline all over the paper's website. His name appears no fewer than four times on his new bitch, all in connection with the same story. This super-max "online package" includes transcripts from The Hoff's goon interviews and a photo homage to his totally platonic new man crush, Derek Boogaard. It's almost too icy to bear.

And now for some data....

Total grafs busted: 119
Number of times Boogaard is called "The Boogeyman": 84
Number of appearances of the word fight (or variation): 39
Awkward or cliched similes: 9*
References to gorillas: 2
References to Yetis: 1
Number of times Boogaard is compared to a GQ model: 1
References to Boogaards "extra girth": 1
Description of hands like concrete blocks always thrown with bad intentions: 1
Examples of measured writing: 0

The Hoff's Bust-A-Graf Counter (total grafs busted by Kevin Hoffman during his tenure at City Pages):

* "The Boogeyman is tenderizing King like a cheap piece of meat."
"The Boogeyman streaks at his target like a heat-seeking missile."
"he almost looks like a model out of GQ."
"He was tired of being treated like a circus sideshow,"
"The Boogeyman ... continues his trajectory like a passenger ejected through the windshield."
"he was embraced like a long-lost relative."
"After one fight, his opponent ripped the name off Boogaard's jersey and tossed it to the crowd, like a matador circling the ring with an ear at a bullfight."
"the Boogeyman's skates were chewed up like a dog's toy."
"Gillies collapses like a marionette with its strings cut."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bury Those Leads

New Times Village Voice Media is known for its punchy lead writing. A VVM lead doesn't just set the scene -- it grabs your tits by their balls and hurls you into it. Here's a smattering of this week's best.

On the night of January 27, 2003, Danny Holmes and Shawn Hamre stood outside a prostitute's door at an apartment building at 16 West 37th Street. (*)

You have to be Michael to understand. (*)

The first time Alana McCoy was labeled a dyke, the sophomore was walking back to her car in a Regis University parking lot. (*)

"Why say no when it's so much easier to say yes?" (*)

A certified wingnut runs around screaming on the corner of Telegraph and Durant avenues in South Berkeley, his underwear outside his clothes, a toy medieval shield in one hand, a toy axe in the other. (*)

The VIP card is a delicate and dangerous thing. (*)

People in the Bay Area are so busy mapping a fungus genome or rolling out the next digital porn platform that they rarely notice they still live amid two of the Great Society's most notable accomplishments: concentrated urban poverty and bureaucratic ineptitude. (*)

Felix Ellis is alone now. His wife, Genevieve, isn't around to make his favorite bread pudding. (*)

Steve Bison of Alabama's Cherokee River Indian Community says the war over 4-year-old Raven Laws may be traced back to the legendary Battle of Horseshoe Bend. (*)

Nima Daivari looked very gay on the night of March 17. (*)

Of all Southern hip-hop's flavors, none captures the lazy pace of an oppressively hot and humid day in the big dirty as well as screw music. (*)

With a deafening drone the airboat sped north. (*)

On Tuesday, February 27, Constable Mike Dupree abruptly left for vacation just hours after Dallas County commissioners ordered an outside investigation of his office after three employees said that the openly gay elected official was a little too openly gay, claiming that he came on to the younger Hispanics on his staff and touched them inappropriately. (*)

Ever wonder what Kansas should smell like? (*)

Ward Regan lived in 61A. In 1999, Greg Abbey moved into 66A. Abbey was depressed. Regan didn't notice. Abbey wanted to be alone. Regan didn't care. Abbey tried to avoid Regan. Regan, a big fan of Seinfeld, adopted Kramer-esque tendencies and showed up uninvited to Abbey's apartment in boxer shorts to watch his cable TV. After getting over finding Regan in his bathtub—more spacious than his own—Abbey finally warmed up to his oddly instrusive neighbor and discovered they had a common interest: cartoons. (*)

The two private Learjets landed at Key West International Airport. (*)

You have to be Michael to understand. (*)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oh, Baby!

We've Been Had!
We were astonished to read that the Phoenix New Times' story on Anna Nicole's Native love child -- you know, the one that everyone was talking about, teased oh-so delicately around the chain under the headline "One night, Anna Nicole Smith saw red" -- was a hoax. Can you believe it? Completely fabricated! Oh man, the razor sharp funnymen behind that ruse really had us with our pants 'round our ankles for a minute. Thank goodness for Inside Edition, who proved that the only thing more pathetic than the humorless story was the humorless reporting on the humorless story. But seriously folks...

Go Hoff! Bust that Graf!
We were kind of surprised that MNSpeak gave lesbian marriage pioneer Kevin Hoffman's first month on the job such tepid marks. C'mon guys, if you can't handle weed and massage parlors, get out of the alternative newsroom! Our sources at City Pages tell us that the graf buster's attempts to bro down with his staff have yet to lead to anything sweet, and that he swears like a sailor in staff meetings. Pax, dude. Pax.

Polish Up Those Resumes, Ladies!
Space enthusiast Tony Ortega, the new captain of the S.S. Village Voice, posted a call for the vacancy left by Joy Press and is probably typing up another one right now for departing sports writer Emma Span. We tired pretty quickly of Emma's locker-room naif shtick, but she was far from the Voice's worst offender. It really is amazing: New Times Village Voice Media has a singular talent for making us feel bad for writers we don't particularly like.

You, Too, Can Hasten Death's Slow March
We on the Watch have been thrilled to see our li'l hit counter spin, and want to thank you, our faithful readers. Please, join us on myspace, and keep those tips coming:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"If I've Lost Carr ..."

For those who didn't see it, we'd like to point you to David Carr's recent column in the Times, which is the media-crit equivalent of Walter Cronkite inveighing against Vietnam. You're late to the party, bro, but glad you came anyway.

Note especially the last two grafs, which thankfully move us beyond the tiresome "New Times Village Voice Media as rubes" meme:
Despite the myth, outsiders have always thrived here. William Randolph Hearst, a rube from San Francisco, came here at the turn of the last century and bought a newspaper that became the legendary New York Journal. Harold Ross, a rustic from Colorado, conjured up The New Yorker, while Harold Hayes came from the wilds of North Carolina to all but invent the modern magazine at Esquire in the 1960s.

But none of them worked from Phoenix.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Get to Know Your Brass Polishers: Kevin Hoffman

As the clock ticks onward, please enjoy this feature wherein we familiarize you with members of the charmingly zealous New Times Village Voice Media brood. First up, AWDW mascot and graf-buster Kevin Hoffman!

In the month since Kevin Hoffman was handed the keys to the Minneapolis City Pages, the 30-year-old lesbian marriage pioneer has twice graced the paper's news blog with his prose stylings. If you're unfamiliar with the vogue of the new editor-in-chief, imagine a doughy Sam Spade cracking retard and poop jokes. Hoffman favors bareknuckle phrases like "bust a graf" and "hit me back," often when giving instruction to writers.

Example: "Bust a graf about retards and poop and hit me back this afternoon. Pax, The Hoff."

You see, The Hoff -- as Hoffman's writerly persona is known -- fancies himself a hard-boiled crime reporter. In his debut post, an idea cadged from a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hoffman drills down on a local drug bust in which an auto mechanic tipped off police. Sure enough, The Hoff soon flashes his signature wit and deep knowledge of stoner culture: "Who knew 'the Midas touch' meant Acapulco gold?" he riffs. Kapow!

He also busts this graf: "After being hailed as a hero by the dailies—which are staffed by people who wear D.A.R.E. shirts unironically—the mechanic started receiving death threats."

Death threats, drugs, stupid daily reporters who lack a sense of irony? This is both the noir of Hoffman's imaginary cool and the idiom of the New Times Village Voice Media chain. No wonder this kid is its new golden boy.

Trust us, though, The Hoff's been smoking oregano for years. A quick tour of his previous work reveals Hoffman to be more tragic figure than tough guy, a naif obsessed with the netherworld. He's the dork who gets his milk money beat out of him and overcompensates forever. He's the rugby-cut (on the left) who goes to Frisco on his honeymoon and gets this sweet sweet comic book-inspired tattoo:

Title: Milk This, Bitch!
Artist: Andy Lee

Predictably, then, Hoffman's second blog post is about sex. Cadging from the AP, he tears into a state bill that targets masseuses who sexually penetrate unwilling clients. The measure is ripe for mockery and The Hoff obliges: "The new bill was proposed by Mary Olson (DFL-Bemidji), a freshman who apparently never got the memo that rape is already illegal."


Minneapolis, did you get the memo? The Hoff has landed. And you better not fuck with him or he'll cut you up. Real bad.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cover: You're Ass

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind...

Cover feature, Cleveland Scene, March 7, 2007:

Cover feature, SF Weekly, March 7, 2007:

Stealin' Segal

In our continuing coverage of "hiring week," we wanted to congratulate Dave Segal, the self-described "music journalist and editor who mostly champions unconventional, non-mainstream sounds, innovators, and paradigm-shifters." He is the newest music editor of the OC Weekly. We know that Dave's sterling reputation for unassailable journalistic integrity will be an asset to his new position. To quote the fond farewell offered by The Stranger, "It won’t be an easy job, but if anyone is up for it, it’s him." And, with any luck, a few wayward English comp majors in ad sales.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Мы вас похороним!

Explaining his hiring of Tony Ortega as the latest editor of the Village Voice, VVM Executive Editor Iron (‘n’ Wine) Mike Lacey had this to say to the paper’s blog: "Lincoln promoted General Grant late in the game. Stalin promoted Marshall Zukoff (sic) late in the game. Tony Ortega is the right man at the right time…”

Wow! How, as a journalist, can you misspell Zhukov's name so many ways? It got us to thinking … if Lacey is Stalin (overseeing his own “Great Purge”) and Ortega is Zhukov (“First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!”), what about the rest of the New Times Village Voice Media Red Army? Which legendary figures of the Politburo’s Reign of Totalitarian Terror do they represent?

Executive Managing Editor Christine Brennan: Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor. As Wikipedia puts it: “an ardent Stalinist, carrying out Stalin's orders with uncritical obedience … Although intelligent, as even his political enemies admitted after he had defeated them, and certainly cunning, he lacked knowledge and understanding of the world outside of his direct experience and often proved easy to manipulate by hucksters who knew how to appeal to his vanity and prejudices.”

Executive Associate Editor Andy Van De Voorde: Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin’s protégé who handled much of the Politburo’s dirty work. Wikipedia: “Trotsky called him ‘mediocrity personified,’ but his outward dullness concealed a sharp mind and great administrative talent. He operated mainly behind the scenes and cultivated an image as a colorless bureaucrat - for example, he was the only Bolshevik leader who always wore a suit and tie.” No word on whether those suits and ties came exclusively from Men’s Wearhouse.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Larkin: Vladimir Lenin, the main leader of the October Revolution, the first head of the Soviet Union, and the creator of the Secret Police. When he died and full authority shifted to Stalin, his body was embalmed and placed on permanent exhibition in the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow. We’re just saying.

Former Village Voice CEO and President of Village Voice Media David Schneiderman: Leon Trotsky, former ally of Stalin’s who lost a power struggle with him, was expelled from the Communist Party, and deported from the Soviet Union to Alma Ata in modern-day Kazakhstan (a.k.a. “we made him President of the Village Voice Media Internet Division”).

New Village Voice Music Editor Rob Harvilla, who replaced the well-respected Chuck Eddy: Dmitri Shepilov, head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Communist Party Central Committee, who denounced jazz and rock music, warning against "wild cave-man orgies" and the "explosion of basic instincts and sexual urges". In favor of Grandaddy.

Recently deposed Voice Editor David Blum: Sergey Kirov, “a prominent early Bolshevik leader, killed probably on orders of Stalin, who resented his popularity…” He was shot in the back of the neck as he walked to his office. Kirov, that is.

Director of New Media and interim Voice Editor Bill Jensen: Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin’s chief of Communist ideology. Just as Mr. Jensen so artfully articulated the VVM manifesto, Zhdanov’s philosophy “reduced the whole domain of culture to a straightforward, scientific chart, where a given symbol corresponded to a simple moral value. Roland Barthes summed up the core doctrine of Zhdanovism this way: ‘Wine is objectively good…[the artist] deals with the goodness of wine, not with the wine itself.’ In other words, “Spit and sweat. Vodka and pills. Chunks of sod, delta mud, lighter fluid and a well-placed red snapper. That's what popular music is made of.”

Former Seattle Weekly Music Editor Michelangelo Matos, who helmed an alternative to the Voice’s Pazz and Jop Poll on, drawing the scorn of Jensen and VVM: Josip Broz Tito, who as leader of the Second Yugoslavia “became the first Communist leader to defy Stalin's leadership … he was one of the few people to stand up to Stalin's demands for absolute loyalty … ‘Stop sending people to kill me,’ Tito wrote. ‘If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second.’”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Who's the Boss?

Man, alive! You turn your head away from the media empire for one second and what happens? They start running the bath and plugging in every toaster in the house. By now all you vigilant media hounds have had four early afternoon highballs in response to the news that space enthusiast and UFO believer Tony Ortega is the new Editor In Chief of that most venerable rag at 58 Cooper Square, the Village Voice. We want to add our voices to -- how do you say? -- the bienvenidos and say we're relieved to see that a person of color replaced that despicable racist Blum. Hopefully Ortega will return the Voice to the high journalistic standard that brought us "Ask a Mexican" and the recent claymation tribute to James Byrd Jr.

To help Mara Altman flourish in the Ortega system, we've culled some recon:
-- Mr. Ortega is an amateur astronomer.
-- A careful newshound, he's known to keep one eye trained on a television in his office, choosing to do most of his editorial critiques after a writer's story runs, via email.
-- Though the New Times Village Voice Media press release made mention of his bygone mohawk days, he's still on the bleeding edge. Just check out this hot story about him making "a leap of faith" and riding the train to work.

Some selected reading to help get acquainted with the new guy:
"There is no doubt that something real passed over Phoenix on the night of March 13. Hundreds of people reported what they saw passing slowly in the sky. Two New Times writers were among those witnesses."

--From The Great UFO Cover-Up in the New Times Village Voice Media mothership (get it?), Phoenix New Times.

"Yes, I'm a cardholding member of the Evil Empire, a New Times hack who's been at it for ten years, the boogeyman every Birkenstock-wearing hippie burnout still clinging to a paycheck at alt-weeklies sees in his sleep, coming to take his job and turn his paper into a soulless corporate moneymaker. Have keyboard, will travel. My corporate cookie-cutting overmasters have parachuted me into four of their newspapers in five different stints (Phoenix, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Kansas City, and now Fort Lauderdale) like the merciless mercenary that I am...Kansas City was a tough case. I think of it as my Fallujah."

--From a letter to the editor, posted at Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.

Related links:
-- The Media Mob.
-- Ortega's shocking series on edgy sex from New Times Broward Palm Beach, which informs us that "sex has come a long way since it was about a man climbing on top of his wife once a week." (Got that, Mara?) Part two.
-- UFO Maps.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Blum's Off

Gawker beat us to it, but we hear that Village Voice editor David Blum, the man who gave the world Mara Altman and the term "Brat Pack," has been fired after just six months on the job. Gawker suggests it has something to do with certain impolitic comments made at an editorial meeting. We hear it has more to do with the steady accumulation of his well-documented incompetence. Rumored replacement: Bill Motherfuckin' Jensen. At least in the interim.

If we could get a decent copy of Photoshop, we'd move the Alt-Weekly Doomsday Clock's minute hand to 11:59.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Razing Arizona

We Deathwatchers have waited a long time for the definitive New Times Village Voice Media story, one that doesn't linger tediously over Executive BSD Mike Lacey's boring politics (which is too generous a term for someone capable of writing childish and shallow and seriously addled crap like this), or the semiotics of his denim and cowboy boots or whatever. One in which the writer actually picks up the papers, reads the damn things and holds them up against some of Lacey's more extravagant claims about their fierce quality. This week, Adam Reilly at the Boston Phoenix -- itself not exempt from the alt-weekly death spiral (the paper did employ Bill "Dewey Defeats Truman, Motherfuckers" Jensen after all) -- comes reasonably close. There are some choice details. Like:

Another point cited in Fefer’s favor, though, is that he's more sophisticated than managing editor Mike Seely, who joined the paper after the merger and ran it between Berger's departure and Fefer’s arrival. Seely, this former staffer complained, is "kind of a backwards-hat guy." Dawdy, too, is a vocal Seely critic, and references an e-mail exchange he had with Seely last October to bolster his case. The conversation began with Seely citing a story from the East Bay Express, the company's paper in Oakland, as an example of the kind of stuff he'd like from Dawdy, who specializes in mental-health issues. The article in question, by Lauren Gard, was on the link between the Internet and sex addiction. "One thing the writer hints at here are the tendency for massage parlors to double as hand-job factories or more," Seely wrote. "I’d love for someone to gauge whether this sort of thing is going on in Seattle.

Dawdy then mentioned knowing a therapist whose business consists largely of Internet-porn addicts working at Microsoft. Seely asked if the therapist would go on the record. Dawdy said it was doubtful, but that details could probably be gleaned from online chat rooms. To which Seely responded:

"yep. think it might be futile to start from there and simply replicate this story. frankly, if you were up to visiting some massage parlors to see if certain practitioners would finish you off, that’s the sort of street-level expose i'd be up for running. but i'd never force you to do that."

Dawdy took a pass. A week later, he quit.

Less well-known, but equally telling, is the hostility Lacey and his lieutenants reportedly have for what they term "victim stories." Broadly speaking, these seem to be stories in which a member of some marginal group — the physically disabled, the mentally ill, the poor — is ill-used by a particular system or society at large. According to several current and former staffers, Lacey and his editors generally balk at these pieces unless something sets them apart, like a counterintuitive twist (victim as victimizer!) or plenty of lurid detail. So defined, "victim stories" were the specialty of Gonnerman, arguably the Voice's best young reporter before her resignation last year. They were also the stock in trade of Jarrett Murphy, who wrote extensively on poor neighborhoods for the Voice and recently left the paper. And they were the kind of pieces Dawdy frequently wrote for Seattle Weekly.

But that's just part of the story. Robson also left because he became convinced the New Times mindset would guide the new VVM, and that City Pages would suffer as a result. When Andy Van De Voorde, VVM's executive associate editor, introduced Hoffman to his new employees, Robson recalls, "he did it by saying, 'This guy was kicking our ass for the competition, so we figured it was a good idea to hire him to go kick other people's asses.' That’s emblematic of how they do things. It’s this kind of cheapskate-tough-guy swagger."*

But the keenest insight into the New Times Village Voice Media ethos comes at the end, in a series of embarrassing responses posted beneath the story from a claque of VVM toadies. The most measured of the bunch also happens to be the most hopelessly deluded. Here's Pete Kotz of the Cleveland Scene (whence hails lesbian marriage pioneer and new City Pages editor Kevin Hoffman):

Hey Adam: I have no beef with your story. Looks like you got to a lot of people and did your best to distill a he-said/she-said culture clash. The only thing I thought was off was the "victim" element. I've been with New Times for six years and I run these stories by the pound. (The latest: I think the difference is we don't try to write essay No. 765,982 on Why Bush Sucks, or Corporations are Bad, or that kind of generic screaming into the wind that's been done so many times before. It's not a political decision. In a way, it's just an aversion to writerly self-importance. The cool thing about the New Times ethic, at least to me, is that it's more respectful of the reader. The whole game is built to engage people -- meaning you have to report, ammo up with a fresh story and a fresh take -- because their time is precious and their allegiance doesn't come easy. You gotta make yourself worthy. I think the old Village Voice method too often put politics above engagement. The stories often seemed to assume that the reader naturally agreed with your viewpoint, naturally agreed that this was an Important Subject, instead of working to convince them of both. It lead to a lot of stuff that should have simply been headlined, "Holy Christ, Look at How Smart I Am." Having sadly spent much of my early career practicing this same kind of journalism, I found that it was great for getting back-slaps from my buddies at the bar, but made virtually no impact on the larger audience. Obviously, there are a lot of personality collisions taking place here. But at the end of the day, it's really just an argument over the best way to keep alt weeklies thriving in the future.

(One day, we swear, we will wade through the jottings of New Times Village Voice Media editors and pluck every macho metaphor we can find. Ammo up, motherfuckers.)

Kotz's missive is, to our minds, a perfect distillation of the New Times Village Voice Media paradox. Yes, in theory, it all sounds so very wonderful -- precisely what made us sit up at the job fair. In practice, well, we get nippling and retards fucking and Mike Lacey on politics and Silke Tudor on whatever it is Silke Tudor writes about, and we get whales, lots and lots of whales. None of which stories betrays any aversion whatsoever to writerly self-importance.

*Which is about as good a description as we've seen of VVM hatchet man and Associate BSD Andy Van De Voorde, who always looks as if he just took the company AmEx for a spin through Men's Wearhouse.
Play the Name Game!

If asked to pick the one thing we admire most about Village Voice Media’s Roster of Talent, it would be the elegant, sophisticated names on it -- no "John Davises" or "Bob Clarks" in this lot. Oh, sure, the alternative press has always embraced a link to the upper-crust geniuses of America’s ancestry, but these VVM folks really know how to fill up a business card! And, so, without further ado, we present the Altweeklydeathwatch Match Game Extravaganza: The list below consists of genuine VVM bylines and the names of 18th century American painters. Can you tell which is which? (No cheating with Wikipedia!)

(1) Peter Rushton Maverick; (2) Andrew Ignatius Vontz; (3) Pieter Vanderlyn; (4) Carrington Fox; (5) Andy Van De Voorde; (6) Nehemiah Partridge; (7) Ernest Barteldes; (8) Benjamin West; (9) Benjamin Westhoff; (10) Jeremiah Theus; (11) Michele Felice Corné; (12) Adam Cayton-Holland; (13) Ben Paynter; (14) Winthrop Chandler; (15) John Nova Lomax; (16) R. Scott Moxley; (17) Francis Guy; (18) Malcom Gay; (19) William Winstanley; (20) Dean C. Minderman

  1. A self-described “newspaper columnist and stand-up comedian in Denver, Colorado
  2. An Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the Revolutionary War
  3. Staff Writer, Kansas City Pitch Weekly
  4. VVM freelancer and former St. Louis Riverfront Times staff writer also known by the pen name “Moribund Orbidund”
  5. American colonial-era painter born on the island of Elba who gained fame for his depictions of naval battles during the War of 1812
  6. Music Editor, Houston Press
  7. An itinerant New England portrait painter of the powerful patrician families of the area, including the Schuylers, Wendells, Ten Broecks, Van Schaicks, Sanders and Livingstons.
  8. Contributing music writer, St. Louis Riverfront Times
  9. Food critic, Nashville Scene
  10. Dutch-born American colonial painter and land speculator
  11. Perhaps the most popular engraver in New York City and environs during the later years of the 18th century
  12. Executive Associate Editor, Village Voice Media
  13. A VVM music freelancer who writes about “people, places, and things at the limits of human experience”
  14. A Florida-based music freelancer for VVM and an ESL teacher
  15. English-born American painter whose portrait of George Washington hangs in the Smithsonian
  16. Staff writer and food critic, St. Louis Riverfront Times
  17. English-born American colonial-era painter who specialized in winter landscapes of Brooklyn
  18. American colonial-era painter best known for some 50 portraits, all of family and neighbors in the Woodstock, NY area
  19. American painter of Swiss birth who advertised in the South Carolina Gazette as a painter of portraits, landscapes, crests, and coats of arms.
  20. Senior Editor, News & Investigations, for O.C. Weekly, and author of a recent story on an Irvine cop who ejaculated on a stripper/motorist