Sunday, March 30, 2008

PS Harp Died

I forgot to mention that I won't be writing for HARP anymore and neither will anyone else because the magazine has ceased to exist.

This came as a total surprise to everyone, including the editorial staff at HARP. The decision to kabosh the mag came from the parent company, Guthrie Inc., which, I gather, is unlikely to ever pay me the couple hundred bucks I'm owed (though I'm sure plenty of other people are owed a lot more).

It's a really sad event because HARP was one of the smarter rags out there. And they always welcomed my pitches ever since I started sending them after I got quoted in this blog post. I'm sure glad I got to do this Tabb story for them in the second to last issue.

But more than anything, this reaffirms that I AM IN THE WRONG BUSINESS. Language, and the power that comes from skillfully manipulating it in written form will never die, but these magazine thingies don't seem long for this world to me and most websites don't really seem interested in paying writers at all, let alone well. I'm glad I lucked out by finding one that is really concerned with the quality of its content.

But basically, we scribes gotta come up with something. Fast.


  1. Yep. This is a big topic right now in Critic School -- especially after the latest firing of an arts writer at the Village Voice. The main discussion's been about film critics, but it applies to writing about most of the arts, I think. One comment that sticks out: criticism will soon be not a job but a devotion. (The writer kindly didn't use the word "hobby," but others have.) If anyone's interested:

  2. Hello, I am nub. My links got cut off - sorry. But if you google Nathan Lee you'll get the scoop.


  3. I've been thinking about having sex for money. That and making sure I have enough dirt on everyone in the industry to keep me unfireable.

    But, seriously, unless they make another internet, things will level off in the next ten years or so (rough guess) and there's got to be something at the other end besides bloggers (oh, sorry, devotees). Remember: the people are weak and crave authority and enough of the people are wise enough to know that blog critics are generally idiots not to be trusted; someone will eventually catch on that not everything SubMergeCity and the Teenagers shit is gold.

    Certainly a whole lot of film editors/staff critics will be working at Blockbuster then and there isn't much upside to that. But there are magazines and newspapers that are doing really well despite industry doomsaying.

    WW in particular must be doing fabulous for having such a bloated staff. A calendar editor, an asst. music editor, a film editor, and like three copy editors for a paper that runs smaller than City Paper, which gets along just fine with about half that.

  4. "Remember: the people are weak and crave authority and enough of the people are wise enough to know that blog critics are generally idiots not to be trusted..."

    But do you really think so? Seems to me people just want to be told what to do/see/buy/hear, and they don't care at all who tells them, let alone whether there's anything more to be said about the piece of art in question beyond thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Things are looking a little bleak from over here.

    Sex for money ain't a bad idea, though. Also, I don't know that WW is necessarily doing well; I think it's more a combination of exploiting interns for free copy and maintaining strict denial about allocation of resources re the Internet. I reckon that ship's sinking...could be wrong, though.

  5. Unfortunately, I don't really think so. I was just being loud. But, I do think that there will always be a segment that values intelligent criticism. Somebody is paying $10 for the Believer.

    If WW is sinking, it does a really good job of hiding it. That's true about the interns, though, which is unfortunate. Looking back, I probably wouldn't have given myself a byline that soon.

    Also, isn't a big part of all of the firings of late (VVM and especially Creative Loafing) a function of corporate consolidation, e.g. sharing writers/stories, production departments, and probably editors eventually?

  6. This post and the comments make me nervous. How good are you with deadlines Jason? Because I suck and this made me scared to lose what I have.

    So are you working with English baby or was that a joke? Because I saw yr article on it when people started visiting my site by way of the Q&A and was like "whhhaaaa?"

    PS - Together we will hunt down that Jazz Times guy and demand money on your behalf.

  7. What do you mean by deadline? Deadline to reinvent cultural criticism before it's too late?

    Yeah, English, baby! is my main gig right now. The lessons are a little repetitive, but the video-making is a blast. That's funny that you actually got some traffic from that link. Only 4% of our traffic is from the US. There were lots of people in China reading your Lightspeed Champion interviews!