Bring back the real A&E

Lily Allen a modern-day Jane Austen? [“Lily Allen Gets the Last Laugh,” June 13] Sure, and Liz Phair is Joyce Carol Oates. Maybe next week’s cover story could be a comparative study of Franz Kafka and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I read the list of Allen/Austen parallels, and it was a major stretch. And even if the comparisons are apt, so what? Is Lily Allen even playing in WNC? If the Xpress is going to start covering national acts that aren’t even touring Asheville, why not start with something useful, like record reviews.

Also, is it possible for Alli Marshall to profile a musical act without an in-depth dissection of what they look like? I was embarrassed for her as I read the preview of The Hold Steady’s Grey Eagle show [“Twenty-Nine and Holding,” June 13]. After a cursory and fairly inaccurate assessment of the band’s sound (Hüsker Dü meets Springsteen? Has she ever listened to Hüsker Dü?), Marshall dives right into the least relevant aspect of the band: the fact that they are old and ugly. Their rich lyrical content? No, better to focus on their asymmetrical features.

I am not nitpicking about this one article. Check the archives. Marshall is obsessed with hemlines and hairdos, which is fine for a fashion writer. But maybe the Xpress could find someone who listens to music with their ears instead of their eyes.

Ironically, her article mentioned Neil Halstead’s porn-star mustache. Funny, because I don’t remember the Xpress writing a feature on Halstead’s band Mojave 3 when they came through town last fall. If they had, maybe more than 35 people would have showed up.

I like much of the writing in the Xpress, but the A&E section is becoming increasingly vapid and irrelevant, two viewpoints that have no place in any discussion of art.

— Jim Schmidt

A&E Editor Melanie McGee Bianchi responds: I appreciate the inspiration—the idea of Liz Phair as the new Joyce Carol Oates is brilliant: two rust-belt writers prone to gawky, self-conscious wordcraft. Consider these lyrics from Phair’s song “Love/Hate”: “It’s drugs, it’s hunger/ It’s race, sex, and government/ Any way you look at it, you’re part of it, you know it.” This would make an excellent opening quote if they ever reissue Oates’ 1990 novel Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, about a 1950s, interracial love affair in a gritty Western New York town. Have you read it?

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One thought on “Bring back the real A&E

  1. I read it, and still liked Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “Say Say Say” better, and more culturally relevant.

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