Letters: Wednesday February 13, 2003
Finger on the Pulse

To the editor: I moved to Fort Worth from Austin to begin a new job in June 2002. At the time I began to read the Fort Worth Weekly publication. I was glad to find an alternative press publication in this town, but felt that it was lacking a lot of substance in the feature articles. I was coming from a city that has a wonderful alternative press publication, the Austin Chronicle.

I am writing to tell you that in the past few months I have noticed an impressive growth in the content of the Weekly. Your investigative series into the Wirt Norris story is second to none. Congratulations for putting your finger on the pulse of this city. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated!

Joe Coleman

Fort Worth

Eschew Babble

To the editor: I am disappointed that the editor allowed the unprofessional comments from A. Mariani in his review “Killer or Filler?” in your Feb. 6, 2003 issue. I can appreciate that Mr. Mariani is an entertainment reviewer and not a music critic (as is evidenced by lines like “their math metal perfectly channels the meaty volubility of what is surely Beelzebub’s foul disposition”), but his review of S. Mann’s c.d. crossed the line from being entertaining to becoming a personal attack. That the editor allowed a personal response to an earlier letter to be carried out in an actual column displays poor judgment and no class (i.e. “When Mann’s not pestering us for column inches or fighting to stop the sale of unleavened bread to gentiles...”). While I will assume that Mr. Mariani thought he was being funny, the tone came across as petty and mean-spirited, particularly in the light of Mr. Mann’s previous letter to the editor.

Most people do not read music reviews to have their tastes validated or invalidated. Music/entertainment reviews serve an “advertorial” function. They eschew critical analysis in favor of a perspective that will clarify to the target audience the quality of the music relative to the genre of which it is a part. Despite Mr. Mariani’s opinion of “banal ‘inspirational’ coffee-house folk music that’s about as ‘edgy’ as jalapeños on pizza,” it has a significant audience, and a review should address that audience rather than Mr. Mariani’s friends and coworkers who might share his personal opinion on a particular genre of music.

While the world of music is so much bigger than the few column inches you can devote to it, meaningful and direct reviews would be more helpful in navigating it than narcissistic babbling.

Roy Radich

Fort Worth

To the editor: Who is Anthony Mariani anyway, and who died and put him in charge of reviewing musicians and their c.d.’s? What training or expertise does he have to qualify him to review music or albums? Does he actually listen to these c.d’.s or is he “writing the book report from reading the book jacket”? I am certain some of your readers find his dissertations “cute.” I personally find his writing and language offensive. His “get back at Scott Mann” c.d. review for, as he says, “pestering” him for not covering his music is in extremely bad taste, very unprofessional, and very “foul-mouthed, steroid-poppin’, SoCo-swillin’ devil worshipper with the access code to the Playboy mansion” type writing, with an obvious personal vendetta attached. You spot it, you got it, Mr. Mariani. What kind of music review can a guy be trusted to do anyway when he ends the intro to his column with “Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t give a shit. Let’s begin, shall we?”

With all due respect to the service the Fort Worth Weekly provides to the Fort Worth area, I think maybe they should take the following action with Mr. Mariani. In his own words, “When he’s bad, I take him out and bounce him off various dense surfaces while making him listen to this fucking c.d.” (or in Mr. Mariani’s case, reading his column). This guy needs to get a real job somewhere where he knows what he is doing, and your readers need to come out and hear these local people play and sing or listen to their c.d.’s and find out how much this guy has no idea what he is talking about.

Shirley Young

Fort Worth

Editor’s response: Anthony Mariani, the Weekly’s arts and entertainment editor, has been writing pop music criticism for about five years, and his work has appeared alongside that of the best rock critics in the country (e.g., Robert Christgau, Chuck Eddy, “media assassin” Harry Allen, Greg Tate, Barry Walters, Simon Reynolds, Sasha Frere-Jones, and the New York Times’ Kalefa Sanneh) in the best-written arts publication in the English-speaking world, The Village Voice. Roy’s suggestion that a critic should write to the audience of each music genre instead of writing to his tastes is ridiculous. The only thing that matters to Anthony and the rest of the Weekly’s music critics is quality — a song could be rap, folk, Christian, Satanic, classical, jazz, anything, and if it’s good, it’s good, if it sucks, it sucks, and we’ll tell you which it is. Although we would much rather gush over good music than slam sucky sounds, we’ve learned over the past year that many artists, especially local acts, respect honest opinions much more than dishonest reviews that essentially apologize for the locals’ not reaching major-label quality. The worst thing any of us can say is, “It’s good ... for a local act,” or, as in the case of Scott Mann, “It’s decent ... for a Christian folk singer.”

Road Trips

To the editor: OK, senseless clones. As far as the DFW music scene goes: You must take into account the weather and economy. All my friends are pretty much jobless, and it’s cold out in the evenings. Also the clubs here stick you with their over-rated cover charges. The Ridglea is the only club justified in what it charges. The place is huge. We can go to The Steamboat (a “premium” club) in Austin on Monday night for $5, and Danny at the Aardvark is charging $8. That’s $3 more and that’s also gas money to get down to Austin. My suggestion to bands: Get the hell out of DFW. You can do much better on the road if you plan it right. The club owners want one thing: money. Do I smell a musicians’ union? Keep it up, club owners, and it just might happen. You have to make it affordable during hard times. I don’t need to tell you how to run your business, but, damn, you need to get a clue. Think about people first, not the money. Greed brings destruction. Squeezing blood from turnips is not recommended.

Nate Roberts

Fort Worth

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