So as attentive readers are aware, for the longest time -- twenty or thirty years, beginning in 1973 -- I scribbled off and on about music and pop culture for a magazine best known as Stereo Review
. Let's just say that a cooler post-collegiate gig was pretty much unthinkable -- the money was great, I was living in an affordable rent-controlled one bed-room apartment in lower Manhattan, and I got to see A-list rock bands and movies pretty much five nights a week. For free. Plus I got to write about them, which people seemed to enjoy.
I should add that a book version of my literary greatest hits is coming out some time at the end of the year...
...and you might find it amusing.
In any case, there's a back story, which I will make as short as I can. The bottom line is I had read said magazine religiously -- by which I mean with a yarmulke on my head (heh) -- for most of my adolescence; it had been published under a variety of names since approximately 1958, and over the years I learned a great deal about all sorts of music from some of its writer/contributors, including jazz critic Nat Hentoff, opera buff George Jellinek, and classical polymath and PBS host Martin Bookspan.
Be that as it may, some time around the fabled Summer of Love, Stereo Review -- like many other magazines of its type -- was starting to hire younger scribes to give themselves a patina of hip, regardless of how undeserved. And so they hired a guy named Rex Reed, who at the time was sort of a celebrity -- he'd had cameos (usually as himself) iin a number of major Hollywood flicks, he'd produced a few books on movies, he reviewed for a couple of prestigious newspapers (including the NY Times), and he was considered a sort of happening New Journalist in a class with Tom Wolfe. Which he manifestly wasn't. And I found his writing, shall we say, cutesy. and the work of somebody who was trying way too hard. But what the hey -- I was a kid, what did I know?
In any case, Reed was responsible for this review of The Beatles early middle masterpiece Revolver in SR, and I remember thinking at the time that it made me ill. Please take a moment and read it now, to enjoy its full bullshit quotient and level of bad writing and ignorance that characterizes it.
I mean, seriously, that sucks. Big time.
So like I said, early in 1973, I wound up with a gig as pop music editor at SR -- how that happened will be explained in that book I mentioned -- and for a brief period (perhaps a month or two) I was Rex's editor. And one month into my tenure as his sort of boss, he was late with his copy. So I called him up and said -- "Rex, dude, we need your reviews immediately -- I've got a messenger standing by, so let me know when I can send him."
And Rex said -- swear to god, this is a true story -- "give me half an hour; as soon as I plug in the adjectives I'll be done."
Reed went on to a very lucrative career as a TV film critic and contributor to that little pisher Jared Kushner's pink-tinted New York newspaper/cat litter box filler The Observer, and he's apparently still alive and well. What he's doing otherwise, I have no idea.
More Stereo Review anecdotes will be forthcoming as the mood strikes me.