Deleted Scenes: To Live And Die By The Sound Bite

On an average weekday, I will write about 2,000 words. Between schoolwork, this paper, my personal music blog and whatever else might come along, that’s a pretty fair estimate for a given day. And while it might not sound like a lot (it’s only about four pages of single-spaced text), it fucking is. Talk to most writers out there and they’ll tell you they do half of that, if that much, and even then they’re probably lying.

And I’m not an especially quotable person, particularly in reviews. I write long sentences, clumsy in their syntax and usually too intertwined with each other to make for good pull quotes. I do this on purpose. I’m not interested in being quoted. I’m interested in criticism.

So it was much to my surprise last week when one of this paper’s esteemed publishers, Chris Farinas, came into my office and asked what I would have said that pissed off one of our advertisers. I had to search through a mental volume of potential candidates. Really, it could have been anything—who the hell knows what someone is going to interpret as an insult when it’s not meant? Who knows who knows whom, or what negative review was of someone’s cousin’s band? With all the presence of mind I could muster, I said, “Uh… I don’t think so.”

Turns out the line in question was from the Feb. 16 “Deleted Scenes” column, wherein I was discussing the humongous clusterfuck that was the unsigned band issue this year. The line referred to was, “If someone asks me where I work and I tell them, the response I most often get is, ‘Oh yeah, I used to read The Aquarian all the time. It’s still around?’”

Meh. Compared to some of the shit I’ve said in my life and gotten into trouble for, that’s pretty mild. It was a little disappointing, actually. I mean, if I’m going to get in trouble, let’s do it up right. But no, that was it.

Someone in the office of a competing publication sent that line, obviously with none of the context surrounding—which basically amounted to a discussion of the need for The Aquarian to stay relevant despite the changing climate of both the music industry and the way people get their information—to one of our advertisers in hopes of that advertiser dropping their support of The Aquarian in favor of this other publication.

At its most basic level, this is a dick move, but living on Planet Asshole, to expect anything less is foolish. I don’t think it cost us any money, so no harm done, but still. In a time where print media has already been declared dead, to screw with another rag’s accounts receivable really isn’t cool.

It got me thinking though, both about the kind of media attention deficit disorder we live in and humanity’s ceaseless will to fuck each other over. After all, this kind of thing happens all the time, right? Something gets taken out of context, blown up somehow, and there’s fallout. Congresspeople—bless their corrupt hearts—have retired over less. True, there was no real fallout from this, but only because I don’t work for assholes. If I did, I could have lost my job.

My natural inclination is to go on some long, curse-filled rant about this other publication, call them out by name, get myself all worked up about it, blah blah blah, but there’s no point. It wouldn’t make a difference. People aren’t going to stop being jerks if you yell at them for it, and all I’d accomplish is a headache for myself. Thanks, but I’ll save the trouble.

Instead, I’ll say that maybe part of the reason print media is dead (if it’s dead) is because of petty crap like this, and let you—the loyal supporter of this beautiful, dead medium—put it in whatever context you want. Sorry, but I’m too busy with the next thousand words to give a shit.

Have fun,

JJ Koczan