Last year, the Xpress editors decided it would be a dandy idea to create a none-too-serious column about local arts, music and culture. To their eternal regret, they placed it in my hands, virtually guaranteeing a steady stream of e-mails complaining about my dismissive tone, sarcastic comments and general reluctance to toe the party line about how great everything in Asheville is because geography creates talent.
Which, in a way, was the whole point.
You see, it’s easy to buy into the myth that everything local is automatically great. It’s a wonderful vision—this unusual mountain town where you can throw a rock and hit a genius every time—but the reality doesn’t live up to the hype. Someone had to be the devil’s advocate, and as someone who has watched this town change and grow over the past 15 years, I’m glad it was me.
But all things change.
While it’s one thing to play the unflinching cynic when you’re a lowly reporter, it’s a little harder to justify when you step up the ladder. Last month, I was named the new arts and entertainment editor, and one of the first problems that came up was how to tactfully handle the local-arts scene (and is easily bruised egos) while still writing a column that ocassionally dissess the same.
After all, as an editor, I’m supposed to be something of an ambassador, right? The last thing I’d want is for some band, artist or theater group to be reluctant to e-mail or call me in my editorial capacity because they’re afraid that the Culture Watch troll will answer. Not exactly an encouraging image, is it?
It begs the question: Is Culture Watch worth it anymore? Should it be killed swiftly, or continued by another’s pen? If killed, what should replace it?
I’m turning the question over to you, the readers, and in true Culture Watch spirit, I’m warning you in advance that this isn’t a democracy. I’m looking for the best ideas, not the loudest and most annoying voice. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, complaints and suggestions.