You seat Foxy Brown next to Jacki-O at the music section's Orthodox Easter bash and we reward you with a Payback Time T-shirt and two CDs off the Straight's Top 50. Here's this week's winning whine.
Dear Payback Time: You suck! For two weeks now no one has complained-and you wonder why. Let's review the last published response”¦ A reader used this opportunity to draw attention to Alexander Varty's lame-assed review of Beck's latest record. Alex's original review was ill-prepared and erroneous on several points. Mike [Usinger] took up the challenge to respond, but failed to deliver any meaningful response. Hey, Mike, maybe you should run for public office, as you seem to be good at shovelling manure. And Alex, maybe you can join the Blue Man Group, since you seem to be so good at keeping your mouth shut. So I ask you, is Payback Time a forum to discuss genuine criticism or is it relegated for the lazy reporter to demonstrate their gratuitous use of a dictionary?
> Scott Williamson
Alexander Varty responds: Dearest Scott-You're absolutely right: my Guero review was ill-prepared and erroneous on at least two points. Getting the title of Mellow Gold wrong was particularly stupid; my much-played copy is shelved less than two feet away from where I work. All I can say in my defence is that I was stuffed full of drugs when I wrote the Beck piece: powerful anti-allergens, to be precise, which don't exactly have a performance-enhancing effect. Now that alder-pollen season is over, however, I'll break my Payback Time silence to clarify why I'd rather not contribute to this particular forum. There are too many reasons why Payback Time is a bad idea for me to start listing them here, but essentially I think it's dangerously counterproductive for any media outlet to willingly enter into an adversarial relationship with its audience. And the Straight wouldn't court the deliberate abuse of its political, environmental, or arts reporters: why should its music critics be any different? I suppose that for many pop-culture consumers-and even for some music journalists-music is just the noise in the background that happens when you go out to drink. For most real musicians and music lovers, however, music is as close as we're going to get to the divine in this life. In other words, music is serious magic and it deserves serious discussion, not the adolescent complaints and editorial falderal that usually occupy this space. Which isn't to say that you shouldn't complain about our occasional painful inadequacies-but hey, isn't that what the Letters page is for?
For taking the time to abuse us, Scott Williamson takes home discs by Moby, Beck, K-OS, Joss Stone, Queens of the Stone Age, and someone he insists on calling "Jane Arden". You can voice your impotent rage by snail mail or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.