No one likes Jandek; except for the people that like Jandek

You force the music section to imagine Jessica Simpson pegging Billy Corgan, and we reward you with a Payback Time T-shirt and two tickets to a Live Nation club show of your choice taking place in Vancouver within the next four weeks. Here’s this week’s winning whinge.

Dear Payback Time: Any music fan knows the routine: friends, coworkers, and/or parents accuse you of liking music just because it’s obscure and unpopular. These are difficult comments to argue against. After all, it is hard to explain to an unadventurous buffoon with little interest in music that there’s more to life than the drivel offered up by the average radio station. So it’s strange to find myself on the other side of the argument.

Adrian Mack: you only like Jandek because nobody else could possibly like Jandek. Next year, as the Wilco you so love filters its way into car commercials, or when M. Ward announces his stadium headlining tour, you’ll sit there smug in your East Van digs thinking, “It doesn’t matter. I still have my Jandek.” And you’ll put on your expensive headphones and force a grin onto your face as the painful noise slowly penetrates your skull.

I’ve heard about this Jandek character over the years. (I won’t stoop to calling him anything else, because it’s all beyond ridiculous.) I wanted to see what the deal was. I went with an open mind, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced. Nothing could. As the guy beside me fell asleep and the noise continued, I couldn’t stop laughing as the joke washed over me.

> Dave Tolnai

Adrian Mack replies: Dearest Dave—As jokes go, surely this one deserves a more robust response than a snarky letter to A. Mack, no? I mean, fuck—send your complaint to Corwood Industries if you hated it so much, demand a refund, start your own band, whatever, but go big and leave me out of it. Plus, you’re wrong. Lots of people like Jandek, and not just pretentious, lying dickheads like me; good people, passionate people, smart people who have made films and devoted millions of thoughtful words to the man. Nobody on Dave Tolnai’s level or anything, but if those people should tell you that Jandek’s merits lie somewhere beyond what you hear, please don’t go straining that big open mind of yours trying to grasp the concept, because evidently they’re just wrong. It’s all been one big, mirthless, three-decade-long joke, as revealed by Mensa member Dave Toenail in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight.

Between your friend’s $35 nap and your own petty little look-at-me bitch fit, thanks at least for finally giving us the punchline.

You can voice your impotent rage by snail mail or by sending an e-mail to




Dec 17, 2009 at 4:24pm


C. Marrow

Dec 24, 2009 at 5:45pm

Jandek has recorded so much material with so varied that to dismiss his whole output comes of as nothing more than ignorant.

Dave Tolnai, you are a fucking moron.

Bedroom DJ

Dec 29, 2009 at 12:48am

C. Marrow - PERFECTLY put!

Don't worry Dave - you'll always have Nickleback or something else equally unchallenging.

The funny part is you claim you were aquainted with Jandek, yet you still paid for your ticket and attended the show. Why, exactly?

Such a shame the enraptured audience just didn't get it, huh?


Doesn't Know What He's Talking About

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:24pm

You guys are maybe taking things a little bit too seriously.

On the one hand, you call me ignorant and closed minded, but then suggest I'm somehow stupid for going to a show with only a passing idea of the material in an attempt to see what the deal was and experience something new. And then make the logical conclusion that if I don't like Jandek well then I must be a Nickelback fan and then pull out the standard "you're not smart enough to get it" argument.

My letter was motivated by this constant theme of all writing on Jandek that suggests that anybody who doesn't get it just isn't sophisticated enough to understand. This is an unarguable point put forward to bully people out of arguing against them.

The point of my letter is that I finally found myself on the opposite side of this argument, listening to some of the same things I've thought over the years being flung back at me. Ever heard of hyperbole? Irony? Humour? I guess not.

As well...I don't see the humour in this? A guy so focussed on his thing that he doesn't address the crowd, doesn't have a name and doesn't actually seem to exist outside of a show every once in a while and a whole hell of a lot of albums. It's practically the plot of a Charlie Kauffman movie.

Anyhow, what I learned in this process is that while I think very highly of the music that I listen to, other people out there probably think it's unlistenable noise. I'm going to keep Jandek in mind the next time somebody makes me angry by telling me that the music I like is shit.

What you guys learned is that anybody who doesn't like Jandek is a Nickelback fan with a closed mind and a low IQ.