June 29, 2005

America’s Middlebrow To be perfectly

America’s Middlebrow

To be perfectly frank, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” haven’t kept up with The New Yorker of late. As much as we glory in its Cooler-than-Thou-in-a-Yuppie-Sort-of-Way shtick, we find the periodical about as sexy as David Denby. Accordingly, we haven’t read it much since Tina Brown attempted to liven it up by “dumbing it down.”

Recently, however, a junior editor here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—happened upon the June 6 number of the magazine. Giving the issue a quick perusal, “Chip” was aghast by what he found.

Young and nubile as we are, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” fondly recall the days when various New York intellectuals trashed sellouts who would deign to make a buck and publish an article in the “middlebrow” New Yorker. Serious critics didn’t stoop so low.

The New Yorker of today, however, makes its whilom Edmund Wilson days seem like the old Partisan Review. Pretty soon the magazine will be Newsweek with an inferior art department.

Don’t believe us, dear reader? Then simply take in the first sentence from one Sasha Frere-Jones’ installment of the “Critic’s Notebook”:

If there is one m.c. who deserves to benefit from the focus on Houston hip-hop, it is Devin the Dude, who makes a rare appearance at Rothko on June 1.

Sounds like serious stuff, eh? And that’s a pretty big “if”: We’re not entirely convinced that anyone “deserves to benefit from the focus on Houston hip-hop.” Actually, we were unaware of the recent “focus on Houston hip-hop.” As far as we’re concerned, the only people who should benefit from this would be earplug manufacturers.

Ms. Frere-Jones, clearly a very discriminating critic, blathers on about “Devin the Dude’s” “several brilliant solo records.” We’re certain that “brilliant” is the mot juste.

If this doesn’t entice you to take note of “Devin the Dude’s” Houston-based “rapping” brilliance, perhaps another snippet from Ms. Frere-Jones will: “His drawl is as smoky as Snoop Dogg’s, and his comic skills are more expansive than Eminem’s.”

Wow: Comic skills that are “more expansive” than those of Eminem! That is aiming awfully high, isn’t it? We’ve always admired Eminem’s humor; as far as we’re concerned, it is so, in a word, expansive.

The deeply serious Ms. Frere-Jones ends the review thus: “…it would seem that Devin is late to pick up his check. Let’s hope this year—he has an album tentatively slated for summer—is the year he does.”

Thanks, Ms. Frere-Jones. Let’s hope that this year, you don’t get to pick up a check, because The New Yorker decides to become a quality publication again, and fires you.

Posted at June 29, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack