So, man. The Reader…for the past three years, due to just a tiny bit of work on my part, a blog post here, a facebook post there, and minimal tweeting, I’ve won a huge amount of awards in their annual Best Of Chicago poll. It all started as a way to promote this here blog, along with Red Scare Industries, the label run by my good bud Toby Jeg, with a little help from me. We got the word out that we’d like to win in a couple of categories, and lo and behold, you guys came through and kicked ass and voted, and we won. And each year, we consistently win. The best part it, even though it started out as me just saying “please vote for BSC for best blog, and for Red Scare for best local label” we ended up winning all sorts of other shit too. Lawrence Arms won best band, best band name, best band that’s been around forever etc. I won best singer/songwriter (3 years in a row!) best Chicagoan to follow on Twitter (beating Roger Ebert last year) and so on and so forth. It was a fucking orgy of victories, a cornucopia of bounty, our cups runnethed over etc. But you know what?
The Reader steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any of the shit that I do. They won’t write up any TLA, Wandering Birds or Red Scare albums or shows. They pick their own favorite blogs and tweeters and songwriters and favorite dive bars to write about even though we have consistently dominated these categories as determined by THEIR readers. The whole ‘best of’ voting thing is nothing but a ruse to write glowing praise about their shitty cronies, despite who the winners of the ‘poll’ turn out to be. In fact, at the ‘winners party’ this year, the only ‘winners’ invited were the editors picks. Here’s the thing about it, and it’s 2 things:
1) The Reader, like all print media, is fucked. However, the Reader would rather continue to push their ‘sophisticated hipster agenda’ (read: dorky cultural nepotism) to no one than listen to the people that vote in their polls, which is the general prerogative of dorks that become journalists, (make people like what you like, thereby redefining yourself as a tastemaker as opposed to esoteric nerd) so it’s not that creative. But it brings me to number 2, which is closely related to number 1.
2) Nobody votes in their polls. The only reason that Toby and I win every single award that’s remotely applicable to us is because we are the only people who even care AT ALL about the stupid awards. And do you know WHY no one cares? Because the Reader is a didactic bunch of old wannabe ‘hipster sophisticates’ who are, and who produce a magazine that’s about as much fun as getting your ass wiped with vintage wallpaper.
And man…I gotta imagine they HATE that we win. I mean, they want an active, involved discourse with the kinds of people who vote for Tweeters that don’t just tweet about dicks and who don’t like sloppy punk bands that come from the world of modern punk (which is, granted, an embarrassing as shit term), as opposed to culturally slumming hipsters playing ‘art punk’….but they can’t get it. Instead, the Lawrence Fucking Arms won ‘best band name’ even though it’s a TERRIBLE name. And it’s not like we’re the most popular band in Chicago. Ever hear of Wilco? The Reader would probably like to believe that Wilco fans are their readership, but just don’t engage online as much due to being too old and sophisticated (which raises the question, why pander to them, then?), but that’s a fallacious conclusion. Ever hear of Rise Against? They’re from Chicago too, and their fanbase is all over the fucking internet. They just don’t read the Reader either. And neither do our fans. That’s the thing. No one cares. I mean, the fact that I beat out Roger Ebert last year as best twitterer is a goddamned travesty. I’m perfectly willing to admit that. So this year, they CHANGED how you vote for best tweeter (I’d love to confidently say it’s BECAUSE I beat Ebert and it just chapped the Reader’s balls so much that they had no choice but to try and fix the game, but that’d be pure speculation on my part), and I fucking WON AGAIN!
And it’s not because I’m a particularly popular Chicago tweeter. Check out @Iamenidcoleslaw. She’s just one example of someone from Chicago, who’s funnier than me and has ten times more followers than I do. It’s just that she doesn’t care.
But here’s the thing…none of it matters. Even as we win their dog and pony show, they go on pretending we didn’t win because they know that I’m nothing but a wiseass hack with limited abilities and there’s absolutely no reason to promote my shows, blogs, endeavors, whatever.
Here’s the worst part: I actually DO read the Reader. It CONSTANTLY bums me out, but I do it anyway. Why? Because I grew up in Chicago and it’s our free weekly and it’s where I used to go to read Savage Love and find out who was coming to the Metro. Now the internet gives me all that and more, but I still pick up the Reader, marvel at the total bullshit that they’re hyping, marvel at the smugly dismissive reviews of things that publicists they can’t ignore give them to review and then marvel that somehow they’ve managed to survive. The fucking Westword in Denver (a vastly inferior city to Chicago in every way….and I LOVE Denver. I want to move there, in fact) has a more swinging, creative, risk-taking, socially progressive, genuinely out-there nutsack than the Reader. And don’t even get me started on free weeklies in real cities like LA and NYC.
Look, I know I sound bitter. I’m fine with that. I played their dumb game for three years and never said a word. But this year, for whatever reason, it just seems too smug. And I can’t take the smugness from an emperor who wears no clothes. So here ya go, Reader. What are you gonna do? Cover me and Toby less? I dare you to try! Your only recourse at this point is business as usual or acknowledging this and smugly pointing out that I’m A) wrong about the amount of votes that come in (total bullshit, by the way) B) Untalented and loud, and just because crap is popular doesn’t mean that a reputable publication needs to waste time covering it…and you’d be right…you could even point to some bullshit like Adam Levine or Two and a Half Men as examples of crap that people like that isn’t worth shit…that’s okay. Good tactic. But the thing is, I’m NOT popular. And I’m not even that loud. I just happen to win your dumb thing every year by putting forth less effort than I do getting my bike ready for summer, which is almost nothing, btw.
So, I guess, this is goodbye to the reader poll. No. You know what? Fuck that. After this, I think this is what we should do, folks: Next year, I want our little team to win the whole fucking thing. Every category. I want to be the best restaurant, subway station and best dildo shop in Chicago. How about that? Can we pull that shit off? I think we can. We won everything we were eligible for with next to no effort these last 3 years. Let’s do a little planning and (in the words of Robert Duvall in Colors) walk down there and fuck ‘em all.