It starts with a slow slide towards mediocrity, a descent into a commoditized habitat of decay. A place where you have agreed to live under the conditions set by the board of tourism and the developers to only show the average, culture free elements of a white washed city close to the ocean. To only exhibit your cities sameness with other ‘vacation destinations’ and run from the abhorrent nature of being a border town and all its trappings.
I can accept that. I get real culture from living within a five-minute bike ride of downtown. There are great art shows in North Park and if you’ve never been to a punk show in the sewers then all I can say is you might be missing out. How about a vegan dinner at the Che Café or a bike ride to hand out burritos to our cities homeless with the San Diego Burrito Project? How about a Maystar Fashion show at the Beauty Bar or a noise/drone show at the Smog Shop in National City? When was the last time you went to the tower bar to watch 70’s soft core porn and drink PBR? How about a jazz show at Anthropology in Little Italy or better yet, go see Gilbert Castellanos at the Onyx Room on a Tuesday night.
The point is that there isn’t a shortage of things to do in San Diego when you’re not dead. Unfortunately, it has become apparent from the recent coverage in the San Diego City Beat that this city is as exciting as Fox 6’s Mark Bailey makes it out to be—completely fucking pedestrian. City Beat’s If I Were You column has a certain sophomoric appeal to it. Though I’m a fan of South Park and Family Guy and The Onion I’d rather see some content that compels me to go and see for myself.
I would never look at the Tribune to find out what Paul and the gang from the Blackheart Procession are doing, nor would I find an interview with Justin Pearson of Three One G and the Locust in the Tribune. For those kinds of morsels I’d look in The Reader or the San Diego City Beat. At one time SLAMM, a local music magazine, had all the relevant local music news, and then they got folded into Southland Publishing’s weekly, City Beat. It was great! Fantastic music journalism coupled with investigative journalism and a budget for a bigger reach and better writing. That’s a good set of ingredients for compelling content. It was a weekly that gave San Diego character and reclaimed some of the culture that had been swept under the rug by developers, tourism and the lameness of suburbia and gated communities.
The hyperlocal market is important, especially in a world where you can open any newspaper in any city and feel like you’ve never left your home. I expect more from the local weekly, not less.
Last weeks fake interview with Lupe Fiasco was an atrocity that never should have been printed. Lupe Fiasco is intelligent and articulate, just read any of the recent interviews he’s done with Entertainment Weekly or Nobodysmiling.com or a dozen other mags and websites. Sure, he says ‘like’ a lot but he gets his point across without sounding like an idiot. Eddie Shoebang wasted space by completely fabricating a Q&A session with the rapper. He essentially paraphrased Lupe’s bio and deconstructed the lyrics of his latest record, Food and Liquor. I’ll just venture a guess and say that Lupe would be pissed if he saw that he’d been mocked in print, regardless of the intent of the writer. As an artist you’ve got your art and your word and you determine the context of presentation. That is also seriously lazy and unfocused journalism.
Sentiments from other local bloggers imply a shared disappointment in the writing specific to the music section, which has been less diverse and more banal as of late. I’ll go one further and say that it fucking sucks. We’ve had weeks without reviews and when we do get reviews its of the latest Wu Tang record or we get two weeks of the same reviews like this weeks recap of last weeks Cat Power, Drive By Truckers and Moe. Reviews that are readily available from Spin, Rolling Stone or Vibe. As a local weekly charged with presenting alternative culture and arts, we, as readers and local musicians/writers/artists get half-assed reviews written by the new music editors pseudonym, Eddie Shoebang. Is he the only person in the City Beat office listening to new music? And what the hell happened to Rosie Bystrak’s Notes from the Smoking Patio this week?
This week we’ve got another piss poor attempt at humor with Nathan Dinsdale’s feature Foursomes foreman on Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman. Several gag inducing and confusing paragraphs in you realize it’s another fabricated feature and yet another dismal effort at humor that falls as flat as his joke about An Inconvenient Truth pt 2. I can appreciate the difficulties of taking on the task of a section editor at a well established publication, but I’m banging my head against the wall as to why the fuck there are so few writers in the pages of the music section of City Beat. As a result, I’m confused why Dinsdale doesn’t tap into the local writing community for more diversity and more focus on local artists. Instead, we’re left with the new kids vanity project and a growing portfolio of insipid content written for an assumed, functionally retarded audience. San Diego deserves better than that.