Friday, October 15, 2010

My Life on the Blacklist PT. 4 (Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! Gotta Irritate!)





“Wait! I just had a great idea! Hey Claire, let's do a "Why Your New Times Blog Reader Who's Too Chicken to Put His/Her Name on His/Her Blog Comment Hates You." I see we have some candidates here....” - NT Managing Editor Amy Silverman’s website response to several readers’ valid criticism.

Ms. Silverman, this is pretty disappointing. Instead of making snarky comments about the people that read the New Times (readers = advertising = you have a job), maybe you should actually take the negative comments for what they're worth, admit when a thread is way past being funny or even remotely entertaining, and move on. Also, Jay is my name.” - A Reader’s retort a few minutes later. I like this guy.

[BTW- She never did respond back to his comment- who’s the “chicken” now, Amy? ]

Hello Blogiteers!

A very brief recap of previous events: I made fun of New Times in a blog connected to my art website, http://www.waynemichaelreich.com, then I wrote a funny (albeit snarky) email to NT “journalist” Claire Lawton whom I later characterized as being NT’s Managing Editor Amy Silverman’s “Annakinesque” disciple. 

As you might imagine, that did not go over well with either of them.

So New Times, a metropolitan newspaper with thousands of readers, decided to publish an online fluffy hatchet piece on this Artbitch, who at that time- wasn’t as well read. It didn’t go the way they expected. Essentially, they got stomped like a “Narc” at a biker rally.

But then, a glimmer of dark light! NT’s Managing Editor Amy Silverman contacts me, and arranges a meeting to discuss my issues. So I proceed to dress “artsy” and bring along seven dollar Costco chocolate chip cookies as a yummy peace offering.

See? I CAN be nice. So you ask- how is the meeting going at this point?
Well…..

Let’s just say they laughed at Copernicus, they laughed at Galileo, and right now?
I’m not doing that well. We return to the meeting room……

So after having had my say, I expected some form of rebuttal to the issues I had raised, or at the very least- a defense for NT’s journalistic abandonment of the downtown art scene. I received neither. Amy’s passive aggressive attitude was yet another insight of how NT deals with any form of criticism that is leveled at it- “a reactive, rather than proactive, approach”- to quote Peter Petrisko.

Case in point? Yours truly. NT has dismissed my position as unimportant kvetching, yet there has been a “hatchet” piece, massive counter criticism leveled, and a tête-à-tête called by the managing editor- not bad for someone whose opinion does not count, eh kids?

Except for a few random snide comments, Amy has been relatively quiet during my presentation of the issues and concerns I previously raised in my blogs, which NT attempted [albeit unsuccessfully] to mock.

For the record, I was neither rude nor ranting; I was focused, polite [if direct] and 
extremely well spoken.In addition, the infamous Artbitch temper was in full check, and I carried myself accordingly- all for naught. I was there to start a dialogue, no more, no less. I harbored no expectation that the opinions that were expressed would be greeted with open arms, but I also envisioned a reasonable level of professionalism consistent with someone in that position. 

In retrospect, I may have aimed a little high.

Shifting in her seat, Amy glares with steely reserve, and I can actually see the hamster in her head carefully choosing the words she has been waiting to say since I started. Boy oh boy. Did that hamster choose poorly. Amy proceeds to shovel a ton of false praise in my general direction, stating how she really appreciates my coming in and sharing my “unique opinion”, but here is the rub- not once does she attempt to refute what I have said, nor does she defend NT’s journalistic record. 

She does share some interesting tidbits, one of which struck as strange- despite having left TWO comments on the online article about yours truly; she claims not to have actually read it. As a rule, I try not to talk about things I have not researched, but apparently, it is a perquisite when you are the MANAGING EDITOR of a magazine.

However, Amy was not done looking foolish just yet. Smiling a crocodile grin, she states that Claire Lawton DID attempt to contact me, but that her email bounced back with the notation that my mailbox was full, and she could not get in touch with me at all.

On which I called liar, liar- pants on fire.
 “At all”?

Really. Even with the traffic that the online article generated, my email boxes have NEVER been full. Not once. Not ever. As we all know, the Internet does have a lot of room to spare- that’s why I occasionally store my Ego there. Moreover, while my phone numbers are unlisted, if Claire really wanted to get a hold of this Artbitch, she could have done one of the following:

1: She could have “Googled” Me.

When (and if) you do this, you will see that I come up on the following websites:

MySpace.com, [I know, I know. Who’s still there?] Facebook.com, [Twice!], Model Mayhem.com, IMDB.com, Blogspot.com, listphotographers.com, and Tumblr.com

ALL of which are linked to either my Gmail or Yahoo.com accounts. In non-technical language, this means that any attempt at contact on those sites generates an almost immediate email response to yours truly. Read the above sentence again- and think about it- EIGHT different sites all linked to my email.

However, she did try ONCE. Kind of like that home school class in journalism she failed. Now, since Claire does not sound smart enough to use Google, how else could she have found the Artbitch?

2: She could have asked her fellow staffers at NT.

They do have staff meetings with her after all, and since I have a few friends/fans among them, I am sure one of them would have offered up my phone number, especially due to the open secret that I am a huge egotistical media whore.

And no, Mrs. Silverman- I am not telling you who I consider/count among them.
Go fish. Actually, since Amy seems to be a rather petty wench- offering up the fact that you’re friendly with me might not be such a smart idea, so I’ll give Claire a mulligan on this one.

However…

3: She could have asked several of the Artbitch’s artistic peeps.

Here is an original idea Claire! How about if you had actually asked some of my fellow artists how to get a hold of me, like say, I dunno, maybe Pete Petrisko- my fellow artist who started this whole ball of wax rolling?

Of course, to get a hold of Pete, you would have to do some research as well. Like talking to some PHX artists, or maybe “googling” him…sorry, I forgot that you hate to do your own work. Why didn’t you ask Steve Jansen to do it for you? After he was done with his coloring book, of course.

4: She could have asked around, as an actual reporter is supposed to do?

As we’ve seen from your vapid “What are you….” articles, asking intelligent questions seems to be way past your skill level Claire, so perhaps it would be best if you just put on your water wings and stuck to the shallow end of the journalistic pool- it’s safer for both you and us.

Some of you out there may be thinking that I’m being somewhat harsh on this brown-nosing incompetent twit. I’m not, and I’ll tell you why.. I am a creature of habit- if I am ever taken out by an artsy hitman, he really would have it easy as far as setting up the perfect strike point.  [Artbitch haters, take notes!]

You‘d think with such a regular and fixed schedule a competent reporter would be able to track this Artbitch down easily, since you can see my Ego (and hear my mouth) from Outer Space. However, I don’t think she really wanted to, and I don’t believe she honestly tried, because for all this token editorial talk about wanting input and a differing viewpoint, have you ever actually read one in NT?

Go on…. take a minute to think about it- I’ll wait.
 [Humming that new K.T. Tunstall song….]

Of course you haven’t. To bolster this point of view, I asked a random assortment of people who came to my studio over the last two weeks, what the first thing that popped into their heads was when I mentioned NT.

To make sure I cut a wide demographic swath, I asked the same question of all:

“Phoenix New Times. What’s your first thought?” 

From blue-collar delivery drivers to white-collar gallery owners, the results were consistent.

“They’re always negative.”

“The [barring investigative stories] writing  / reviews / critiques suck.”

“They seem to really hate PHX.”

“Do they really think I don’t know where the strip clubs and bars are? I’m single. I’m 21. Trust me, I know.”

“What the fuck is Martin Cizmar’s problem?”*

[* I’m not exactly sure, but I bet it’s hard to pronounce. And I’m fairly certain that it most likely involves a whipped cream covered donkey.]

Sorry NT, but it’s NOT just me bitching about you. I just happen to be the loudest, if not the cutest. As I said, I called “liar, liar” on Claire’s excuse to Amy regarding her inability to contact me.

Touchingly, this brings out the Mama Grizzly Bear side of Amy in regards to her underling’s defense, as with a tinge of hostility, she snottily states that Claire is her employee [she has to tell me again?] and that it is not my responsibility- Amy herself will deal with it.

Which is good, because I don’t remember at any point volunteering to take on extra work. Not that I would mind you, as I really like my personal down time. Amy continues in a saccharine tone, saying how glad she was that I took the time to come in and share my concerns with her, stating flatly as she slowly starts to rise out of her seat, that as far as she is concerned; “we’re done here.”

Truer words have never been spoken, I am sorry to say. Taking the cue, I rise out of my chair, shaking my head and chuckling softly while reaching for my rejected peace cookies thinking: I should have listened to my gut.

Yes, that’s right- I took the cookies back. In my humble opinion, somebody that unprofessional really doesn’t deserve chocolate chip anything. Nevertheless, because I am a disciple of The Teachings of Snark, I just couldn’t leave without saying something bitchy, of course.

Tate Hemlock would, that’s for sure. Peter Petrisko? Most certainly. Even Ryan Avery would have bitch-slapped this cow upside the head, and he’s nice, if somewhat annoying. Besides, what kind of Snark disciple would I be if I didn’t have the last catty word? An uninteresting one, that’s for sure. 

No one likes a dull Snark.

And to call a spade a spade, “confrontational” is sort of my niche. Therefore- as I was rising from my chair, I said the following: “Thank you for cementing my cynicism and proving my point.”

I now pose a simple question- if that were said to you, what would your response be?
Would you say: “Glad to be of service- by the way, there’s the door.” Maybe perhaps you would feign an air of indifference: “Whatever- by the way, there’s the door.” You might have confessed: “I’ve had to listen to you for 20 minutes, which just has to qualify as a hate crime somewhere- by the way, there’s the door.”

Dare I say that if you were really fed up, you might have even suggested the following course of action: *”Why don’t you go take a flying f***k at a rolling doughnut? And by the way- there’s the door.”

[*For the record, this HAS been said to me…. more than once.]

I’m quite sure one (or some variant phrase thereof) would have escaped your lips in response to my snarky little parting shot.
 [The number 1 response when I asked a varied group what came to mind first was “F’ You”. Seriously. You just gotta love Americans.]

For the record, Amy’s response was this: “Would you like to read my resume?”

Seriously. I swear on my love for Debbie Harry- that is EXACTLY what she said.
Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

I mean…. Amy has just endured a 20 minute meeting with yours truly, had her magazine picked to pieces, the “diss” article exposed as a lamely attempted bitch slap,  her editorial judgment questioned, her employees marginalized, Jackalope Ranch mocked, and let’s not forget my Indian giving of the cookies.

In addition, there is the fact that I totally kicked their online ass, using THEIR website to do so. Sorry, it just makes me feel all warm and tingly inside every time I think about it. If I were Amy, I would be seriously pissed off to say the very least, but plugging one’s career accomplishments does not seem like the best way to wreak havoc upon your enemy.

Unless they’re an undergrad competing for your job, of course
Which I was not.

Nevertheless, it does prove Amy’s egocentric nature, I think. And that particularly fetid nature is why NT has become a fucking joke. To be fair over the last few weeks, there has been an increase of local arts coverage in both the print version of NT and it’s bastard online child, Jackalope Ranch.

I’m sure that’s a coincidence that has nothing to do with me. Seriously, I am. Even my Ego ain’t that big, kids. OK- maybe it is, but I am a realist. I have noticed one small detail running throughout this new burst of local interest, however. Even when trying to be one with the locals, they still get it wrong.

Akin to a Clamato milk shake sprinkled with bacon bits, their writing just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It’s either condescendingly bitchy, or worse, penned like a love letter from a 14 year old.

Some queries, for a select group at the New Times?

Is it that hard to write a critical band review that’s thoughtful and non biased, Mr. Martin Cizmar? Is it that hard to write a good interview about the artists of PHX and their work, Ms. Claire Lawton? Is it that hard to write an interesting article that is not sophomoric frat-tard idiocy, Mr Craig Outhier?* 

Is it that hard to LISTEN to criticism from YOUR READERS, Mrs. Amy Silverman?

Not surprisingly for NT, the collective answer seems to be a resounding “yes”, which begs yet another question that I have been asking myself since this “meeting”, why was I there? I’ll touch upon that in a little while.

Where were we? Ah yes, Amy had just asked if I would like to read her resume, shockingly- I did not. In a polite society, a so-called “normal” person would have demurred Amy’s offer without getting bitchy about it, and then would proceed to leave after thanking Amy for taking the time to listen.

Unfortunately, for polite society, I am not even close to normal.The slightly over exaggerated stories of a wickedly short fuse, sharp tongue and bone-crushing bluntness is how I earned a moniker like “Artbitch”, because  when I am truly and well annoyed- “bitchy’ is sort of my standard operating mode.

And was I in mode- locked, loaded, and ready. Keep in mind this one simple fact-.despite my previous blog criticizing NT; no one was more surprised than I when NT’s hatchet article came out. The fact that I ticked off a newspaper with my tiny little blog is on the surface, ludicrous.

It as if The New York Post suddenly got engaged in a pissing match with the local High School newspaper- It’s simply that petty, but it seems to be the S.O.P for New Times. As stated earlier- “a reactive, rather than proactive”, approach. In other words- a thin-skinned egotistical candy ass is in charge, and we all suffer for it

However, there was still Amy’s question of “Would you like to read my resume?” hanging in the air. And it would be rude not to answer- right, kids? So…. stopping in the doorway and turning slightly, I said in my best condescending tone: “Why? I already know you can’t f*****g write” and then smiled my best shark tooth grin.

Immediately, it dawns that I have just made what could be called in polite circles as:

AN AMAZINGLY GARGANTUAN MISTAKE OF BIBLICAL PORPORTIONS.

As the words leave my lips, Amy’s face darkens, and I swear on the ghost of Randy Rhoads that the room temperature dropped ten degrees. I could have been hallucinating, but I swear there was frost forming on the cookies. Outwardly, my facial expressions betrayed no visible change, but inside I was thinking: “You just HAD to hit the crazyfucker button with both hands, didn’t ya?” and man oh man, did I smack that sucker hard. At this point, even Stevie Wonder could have sensed she was pissed off, since the venom seeping out of her had actually coalesced into a physical presence.

Fortunately, for yours truly, Hate and I go waaaay back. And we get along just swell.

You know how kids look forward to Christmas? That’s how I feel about confrontation.
Especially when I’m dealing with an egotistical idiot. Seriously? Did I, Wayne Michael Reich, AKA: Captain Ego Trip, actually just call someone an Egotist? You betcha.

Takes one to know one, as the playground used to say. Now contrary to popular belief, I do not believe the world revolves around me. It does however, check in from time to time. As an additional aside, those I consider bereft of either brains or talent do not intimidate me, and standing in front of me, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, was Exhibit Amy.

Now here is where we ask ourselves the question: “Why oh why…. didn’t I take the BLUE pill?” With awe [and just a touch of “WTF?”] I watched in fascination as Amy proceeded to morph from an unpleasant adult into a pissed off eight year old right  before my eyes.

Screwing up her already pinched face, she proceeds to chide in a singsong falsetto voice: “I’m so sorry we hurt your feelings, Mr. Reich. I’m so sorry….”  Did I also mention that she was doing “Jazz Hands” as well? Yessir- that is a welcome visual right there- a frizzy-haired Harpy pushing the dark side of 50, wearing a potato sack for a dress, her feet encased in glittery black Chucks, singing a demented Oompa Loompa song.

And what’s even worse? At the end of this tour, there would be no eternal Gobstopper to look forward to. Seeking to nip this immature Fosse inspired performance in the bud, I shook my head in disbelief, chuckled politely, and informed the now animated Amy that she hadn’t hurt my feelings, and she obviously didn’t know me very well, did she now?

With all due respect, most people can’t even scratch the clear coat on the paint job of my Ego, and this butterball of self absorption was no exception. When insults didn’t work, her best backup plan was to foist a 5th Grade Modern Jazz recital upon me.

Oh yeah, that’s downright terrifying.The situation could have been worse, I guess- at least she wasn’t wearing spandex.That stuff does have a breaking point after all. But isn’t that just like a Managing Editor? Brings a squirt gun to a firefight.

Obviously, it was time to take my leave, but Amy was intent on reenacting her favorite episode of “Glee”, whether I liked it or not. She follows me down the two landings of stairs, singing while doing her Parkinson hands thing- except this verse is about my “pathetic” little blog and how she “can’t wait” to be featured in it.

Your Wish is granted, Kitten.
[To my embarrassment, I did shoot back that she wasn’t worth writing about, but in my defense, when you’re that close to “crazy”…. ]
  
As we reach the hallway heading towards the security doors, Amy who is a few steps behind still doing her epileptically inspired homage to Madonna’s “Vogue”, stops her singing long enough to say this: “I’ll walk you out, so I can make sure you reach the doors safely.”

Not exactly the best choice of words. Especially with someone who is wired like me.

A small insight into my psyche for you, my loyal blogiteers. While I do love confrontation, I hate being threatened, whether directly or veiled. I know- it is a strange and slightly hypocritical contradiction that gets me into trouble every now and then.

Often I get accused of taking things “too far”, and most people seem to think that in regards to how I deal with difficult people I push my luck, but as Mathew Broderick once stated in a film of my long ago youth: “A: You can never go too far. B: If I'm gonna get busted, it is *not* gonna be by a guy like *that*.” Keeping that in mind, the fact that I said the following should not shock you in the least then.

BTW, did I mention that the little man who is in charge of the filter between my brain and mouth was on an extended cigarette break at that particular moment in time?

Still walking towards the security doors, I snorted derisively and said: “Thanks- that’s awfully White of you.” This retort seemingly stuns Amy- but only briefly, as she amps it up a notch by reiterating that in her “opinion”, I am pathetic and unimportant.

Pathetic? Which one of us was channeling the untalented version of Nathan Lane?
That would be you, Editorzilla. Unimportant? If true, then why bother to set up a meeting? Just E-mail me to say “F**k You” and be done with it, already. Something rang false here, and it wasn’t just Amy’s hair color.

At that moment, it finally broke clear why I was actually there- Amy didn’t want a discussion or a debate of what I had written, what she wanted was to lay the smack down on me, assuming that if I were face to face with her, I would either be contrite or just cave completely. Because as you already know, NT has been so pivotal in regards to my career, and I just wanted to keep this touchy-feely juggernaut rolling.

I’m sure Amy’s has had some limited success with this unique approach, but when it came to me, she really should have done her homework- it might have saved her some aggravation. When I know that I’m right, I don’t cave, I don’t compromise, and I don’t give one f****ng inch.

Ever. But I can be ticked off. And at that moment, I was becoming exceedingly ticked.

As I walked through the security doors with the chipmunk from “Enchanted” gone rabid still in pursuit, I finally saw red, lost my cool, and uttered a simple retort:

“Yeah? Well you can take that opinion and shove it up your rapidly expanding ass.”

Ok…. it wasn’t the classiest thing ever to come out of my mouth, but it DID finally shut her up. And I am truly okay with what I said…. overall. Looking for Ashley, I see that she has already started making a beeline for the exit, water bottle and car keys in hand.

Who’s got two thumbs, one big mouth, an oversized Ego and the smart girlfriend?
This guy!

Looking over my shoulder, I see Amy glaring at me, eyes blazing, and I couldn’t really tell, but I swear she was checking out my ass. I wouldn’t be shocked if she was, it is quite fantastic- but it was hardly the appropriate time for that, I think. So other than my last remark, I had been pretty well mannered up to that point, and I was so close to getting out with my pride intact.

Possibly, if I had walked a bit faster towards the exit, I would have succeeded,but Amy just had to push it. As I am reaching for the door handle, she sings out mockingly:“Goodbye, Mr. Reich… and have a niiiice day….”

And just like that, I was done being polite. Maybe it was the tone.
Maybe it was the words.Maybe it was her arrogant, unprofessional, dumb as a brick, cow of a woman smug look she was wearing that stopped me in my tracks. Whatever it was, it did the trick. I slowly turned around, slipping into what my GF Ashley refers to as “Snakeyes”- that is, I drop my head and adopt a flat dead stare that essentially bores right through you.

[Intimate friends know this look means “I’m about to kick your ass, and kick it hard”.]

Unfortunately, in this case, the potential human soccer ball was a woman, and despite my reputation for possessing a Gumby-like moral center, there are some lines I will not cross. Like taking the last slice of pizza, for instance. Or leaving the seat up.

As much as I would’ve loved to take the proverbial pound of flesh, God knows she wouldn’t have missed it. What I am saying is that I am a gentleman, and as such- I abide by the playground rule. You don’t hit girls. Period.
 [The jury is still out on hair pulling, and besides- I think she would have enjoyed it a little too much.]

But- as we’re all adults here, language is still a legal weapon. Unfortunately for Amy, I was packing.*

*DISCLAIMER: By “packing” I mean that I was fed up and ready to dip into my bag of metaphorical weaponry in order to put this bloated windbag in her place. In my head, I envisioned pulling a devastatingly effective verbal retort that would leave nothing behind save a pair of glittery smoking Chucks.

Unfortunately, somewhere between my brain and mouth, said retort was hijacked by a bunch of mobbed up Teamsters and replaced with a… let us say, less classy response? Now would be a good time to send the kids out of the room, I think.*

So there I was, ready to fire what I thought would be a devastatingly witty comeback.
Instead, what came out of my mouth was a paraphrased Ryan Reynolds quote.

From the 3rd “Blade” movie. Yes. The bad one. Trust me, I’m not proud about it. I’m more upset with myself that I lost my temper, as I have been really good about that sort of thing lately But it wasn’t like I quoted “Showgirls”, so that’s something, I guess.

What was it I said? (wincing) Well…. (clearing throat) After the “Snake-eyes” moment, I resumed walking out the lobby doors, shaking my head in disgust at the immense bulk of sheer bitchiness and immaturity that comprises Amy Silverman.

I (to the best of my recollection) might have said the following in a rather direct [AKA: “loud”] timbre of voice: “Chr**t, you really are a c**k-juggling Thunderc**t!”

End quote. Now, for some reason, I think she might dislike me. I honestly have no idea why. In my defense, I was only being honest- if anyone deserves to be called the above by me, it is definitely Amy Silverman. She is the embodiment of “C U Next Tuesday” if there ever was need for a definition.

Alone I am not in this opinion, I am glad to say. Two persons who work for NT (and for obvious reasons cannot be named) were way more colorful in their descriptions of Amy when we had dinner several weeks ago.
 [“Jabba the Butt” was my personal favorite.]

Still fuming as I walk out, I realize Ashley has overheard everything. In addition, she doesn’t look happy. Shaking her head, she says:Oh honey… You used that word… don’t. Don’t. Don’t say juggling.” and smiles. Damn, I LOVE this woman.

Leaving the NT parking lot, Ashley asks rather sweetly: “So….. how did it go?”

This brings on almost five minutes of laughter, which eventually leads into jokes about how this will affect my career and any future coverage from NT. I figure it will remain about the same. Thank God. I’ve noticed that NT is a lot like Celebrity Theater- it seems to be an indicator if you’re on your way up, or currently on your way down.

Where is Amy’s career going, do you think? When I started this three-part rant, I was told by many of my fellow creatives that it was pointless:“NT has always sucked, continues to suck, and will suck in the future, no matter what.” This was the collective attitude, suggesting that there was no way to change NT for the better.

But there is a way, and I think I have it. Money. NT is all about one thing after lame community college journalism, and it’s their Golden Cow- advertising sales, where coincidentally, Amy’s husband works. Makes me wonder who’s in charge of visiting all those strip clubs to get their business.

Pretty sure they send the interns for that kind of stuff, right? Advertising revenue is the lifeblood of NT- and as long as that flows, they will continue as always. So it’s time to act like BP, and fuck up the ecosystem.

Metaphorically of course. But “how”, you ask? It’s actually quite simple: DON’T READ THE PHOENIX NEW TIMES. Yes, I will expand on this idea. And the best part? It’s easier than making a fat joke at Martin Cizmar’s expense.  

But we’ll touch on that in our next blog, I think.

“Newspaper editors are men who separate the wheat from the chaff, and then print the chaff." - Adlai E. Stevenson





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