Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

"America's Only Rock'n'Roll Magazine" Is Long Dead

Yesterday The New York Times ran one of its more mystifying pieces of music journalism, not to mention music journalism journalism. Headlined "Rock Chronicle Inspires Battle Over Its Legacy" (the url features the equally catchy tag "the-future-of-creem-magazine-is-complicated"). Not that I was sorry to see my old stomping ground, the anti-Rolling Stone yclept Creem, referenced positively in the newspaper of record. But having watched from afar for several decades as various fast talkers promised to revive the mag only to disappear into who knows what legal limbo without compensating the poor saps they'd convinced to give them work up front ("pay on publication," we've all heard that one), I couldn't see how this chapter of that story got on the first page of the arts section. Even crazier, it took up most of page seven, including a VERY LARGE portrait of fast talker Jason Turner, photographed on a West Village/Soho corner because his office is, to use his coy term, virtual. As the writing strongly implied ("coy" is the writer's word) and the reporting pretty much established without actually saying so, the chance Turner will ever oversee a new issue of Creem is--well, I'd be happy to bet him a grand against it if he can put cash up front in a properly administered escrow account.

The author is James C. McKinley Jr., who recently seems to have been augmenting Ben Sisario on the paper's pop news beat. I hadn't previously noticed his name, so I looked him up, and found an explanation of sorts. On July 15, McKinley picked up an AP item and wrote a brief story assertively and optimisitically headlined "Creem Magazine to Publish Again." I presume that to avoid running a correction, which wasn't quite justified, the Times instead gave this fantasy a full page of its precious real estate. C'est la vie. A few corrections are in order, however. As I hope someone has told the Times by now, Lester Bangs was not the first editor of Creem. Dave Marsh was. And though this is a somewhat more interpretive matter, Bangs never "threatened in print to stab James Taylor for writing touchy-feely songs." He merely described what was explicitly a fantasy (not in Creem, as it happens) in which he ran Taylor through with a broken Ripple bottle. That's different. Don't give McKinley any stories about hip-hop and violence, OK guys?


By robert edwards on July 29, 2011 8:32 PM

robert . . . robert . . . robert

The magazine is not suppose to be dead . . . we have to bring the right people together and boy howdy will live again . . . i'm with the white hats!

By Nathan Smith on July 30, 2011 6:29 PM

Actually, the very first editor of Creem was a man named Tony Reay, who founded the magazine with Barry Kramer, but left pretty quickly. Still seems to be around, and still has some ideas about the history and impact of America's Only Rock'n'Roll Magazine (see here:

Articles, July 29, 2011

Cheetah [Hearts] Commentary Christopher Small 1927-2011