By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Vote for cutie pie!
Thanks to Buzz for the plug for www.dallasarena.com [April 1]. Having taken a crash course in the Ron Kirk/Carol Reed School of Lies, I now am quite comfortable with saying whatever I want to be true--or hope to be true. It's the new Dallas way. Of course, if you have friends like those of Mayor Ron who pony up $300,000 for a shoo-in, you get your story (factual or wishful) a lot further.
As for District 5 candidate Don Robinson, even someone with a droll, bloodless appearance and a lower-jaw mobility impairment can appreciate a good-looking guy. If he happens to be smart and well qualified, more the better. With everyone expecting a historic low voter turnout for the city council elections, anyone who votes for any reason is a better citizen than their neighbor who doesn't. Just remember, Donna Blumer and Laura Miller are the only incumbents who deserve to be re-elected. A protest vote for any challenger will send a big message to Mayor Ron and his puppets that we are not happy.
Pro or amateur?
There's no denying it: Robert Wilonsky is a Professional ["Beat the meatles," Out Here, March 25]. A gifted and capable journalist, he seems unable to break out of this pattern of snotty, vindictive, elitist music reviews and develop a journalism style that is at least halfway objective and hopefully two-thirds less...fucking nasty. As for the Andy Timmons review, I have to ask: What's wrong with "pristine production"? You "can't believe it wasn't released by a major label"? My God! I'll pass! Good thing I read the review in time! Lest I buy a CD by a popular, extremely talented local musician who could use a shred of local support.
I'm assuming that when Mr. Wilonsky writes about infantile fantasies of playing imaginary guitars in front of mirrors, he has firsthand experience--although one has to wonder why 'Lonsky chooses a coat hanger to strum instead of, say, his Pulitzer Prize. He states in his "review" of Orange Swirl--an obvious nod to '60s pop (somehow lost on Robby) by the meanest, black-hearted guitar demon in town, Andy Timmons--"It's one thing to be copycat good, something else entirely to play beyond your influences and yourself." He ends the article with "If only he'd do so much less."
If I may paraphrase Mozart from the film Amadeus, "Which notes would you have Andy remove, sire?"
Andy Timmons, and all of the other real musicians in the area, should ignore this insignificant blip on the musical radar screen. I think Wilon's sky is ready for a fall.
South by Southworst
When I read Robert Wilonsky's rant about this year's South by Southwest ["Tom Waits for no one," March 25], my first impulse was to laugh at the cliched cynicism I have come to expect from your run-of-the-mill rock critic. However, further consideration of his piece prompted me to write this letter in order to point out that Mr. Wilonsky has missed the point of the festival.
From reading Mr. Wilonsky's article, one would deduce that the festival's sole purpose is to provide a forum for music industry types to schmooze and scheme amongst themselves. While I will not deny that this is rampant at SXSW (it is, after all, also a conference for the music industry), the main focus is still, as it has been from the fest's inception, live music.
As most Austinites will tell you, despite the added ritz and hustle that SXSW brings the city, it is still an anticipated event that provides residents with the opportunity to see music acts from throughout the world. Yes, I realize that the crowds and prices have increased over the last 13 years, but it is not difficult, nor uncommon, for the non-wristband-wearing public to gain entry into countless shows.
SXSW began primarily as a way to showcase top musical talent for the residents of Austin, and although the nature of the festival has changed by virtue of its increasing size, it is still adhering to said goal.
I wonder whether Mr. Wilonsky is showing a bit of jealousy at the fact that Dallas does not hold a festival of such prominence, or whether he is just showing the oldest of the rock critic's cliches: that he has to hate everything.
South by Southbest!
I enjoyed the article on South by Southwest. Thanks for helping me not feel guilty for not attending this year's conference. It really is a downer when you know money is squeezing the life out of good, hard-working bands (and there are still some left).
Thanks again. I'll sleep better now.
Thanks so much for a heartfelt, astute, deftly written review of Wilco's Summer Teeth ["The only one," February 25]. Criticism this good (intellectually nutritious and fun to read) is really rare. Good criticism is so hard to achieve (and so valuable when it leaves the arrow quivering in the bull's-eye), because it constructs one side of a dialogue that invites the reader to step in and variously agree, take issue with, chuckle, smile in recognition and learn, all at the same time. I'm absolutely impressed and so glad I stumbled across your piece via the Wilco Web site.
I just wanted to thank you for the incredible article on Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. It was among the best stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading, one that talks about the album in its own terms, and not in the terms of pop culture (if that's not an oxymoron). The album is truly brilliant--wholly and completely perfection in recording and writing. Thank you for recognizing that.
The big Question is...
If Robert Wilonsky cannot understand the appeal of ? and the Mysterians and believes them to be no more than a one-hit wonder cashing in on long-gone fame ["Why, baby, why," March 18], he has no business being a music writer at the Dallas Observer (or anywhere else, for that matter). If he had bothered to listen to any of their classic tracks like "8-Teen," "Midnight Hour," and "I Need Somebody" (which also cracked the Top 40, relieving them of the one-hit wonder status he chooses to burden them with), Robert would know why the band is held in such high esteem by old and new fans alike.
Their music has as much spirit and energy (and that's plenty more than most bands, past and present) today as they ever did. Would bands like the Turtles and their ilk share the stage with high-octane bands like the Mullens and Gaza Strippers? Of course they wouldn't, because unlike ? and the Mysterians, those groups lost any shred of vitality they might have once had. And "96 Tears" is not just any hit record--it is indisputably one of the greatest singles of all time!
? and the Mysterians were and are a real band writing songs and playing gigs at clubs and halls all across the U.S.A., not just a bunch of schmucks who got lucky and recorded a No. 1 hit. They were, are, and always will be considered greats by anyone who truly loves rock-and-roll music. To sum up, if Robert can't be moved by the music of ? And the Mysterians, he should either remove whatever it is he's got stuck up his ass or give up writing about music that really moves people, because he obviously doesn't understand what it's all about.
Wilonsky responds: Tim, if you actually read the article, what part of "thrilling little reminder of what rock and roll used to be and can still allow" didn't you understand?
Breaking the rules
I just read your "Rules of rock" [March 11], and I thought it was one of the funniest things I've ever read about being in a band. I would know, 'cause I am in one. The comment about the bassist scared me a little, considering we are on our second. Anyway, I thought it was great.
I found that my band only adhered to six of those rules. Hopefully you guys won't like our CD.
And now, a little perspective...
I have been a fan of the Dallas Observer for many years now. Thank God that somebody out there keeps an eye on the money-grubbing, soulless scum that continuously try to play the citizens of this city for a bunch of chumps. I suppose what blows me away is the amount of time and energy your readers spend defending the honor of their favorite band every time Robert Wilonsky expresses his opinions.
We all know he doesn't like anybody who has a decent following, and probably only wishes he had a 10th of their talent. But there are people out there trying to overdevelop every last square inch of what is left of the area's natural landscape and resources with taxpayers' money, as if we need more restaurants and shopping malls. When these selfish liars tear down all the trees in their way to put in more parking lots, who is going to care whether Mr. Wilonsky likes Pearl Jam or not?
When nobody wants to send their kids to schools within the Dallas Independent School District because it is the laughingstock of the country, should everyone be so concerned that Mr. Wilonsky said "mean" things about Pat Green? Five or more letters were published about this last week, when special-interest groups (that is, people with already too much money, who want yours at any cost) are ready to turn the Trinity River into a "Barnes-n-Starbucks" shopping and eating extravaganza! If anyone wants to really help the Trinity, they'd clean it up and leave it alone.