On the Times Co.

Hey! Times Co.! I thought about it long and hard and have come to a decision.

Stop being stupid. In fact, all newspapers should stop being stupid. And that's all I have to say about that.

(Unfortunately, this painting is already sold)


Aaron said...

Fun (?) fact:

Lawrence Van Gelder, lately the senior music editor for the Times, is no relation to Rudy Van Gelder, famous jazz producer.

Thanks, wikipedia!

anzu said...

Based on this post, I can't tell whether or not you are happy about his involuntary retirement.

Btw, in a bout of procrastination, I just counted all of the posts in which you mention him (via your tags, though the omg omg post wasn't tagged and I counted that as well)--which was roughly 18. Divided by your 224 posts, and it amounts to fully 8 percent of your output being devoted to his reviews. I should troll around other reviews on your list and see what sort of statistics I come up with. (Hmm. Maybe after my concerts are over. . ..)

Which brings me to my second point--which you shouldn't take personally, but this Holland resignation made me think that you guys are like an unemployment agency. (apologies for the bad metaphor) In an ideal bad-review-free world, this blog wouldn't have to exist. You are critiquing bad reviews, presumably b/c you want the quality to improve, but if by some freak of nature, one day, thanks to your website or for whatever reason, all critics wrote well-written reviews, you'd be out of blog fodder! Well, ok, you'd probably blog about something else, but you get the idea.

At any rate, along with your productivity potentially going down by 8 percent, I guess other love-to-kvetch-about-BH bloggers will have less to blog about.

anzu said...

So far you guys win.
alterdestiny: 1
Felsenmusik: 2
Iron Tongue: 16

I stopped there b/c Musicology doesn't have an easy search f(x).

Now I really need to get back to my graphs.

Empiricus said...


Actually, we're not happy about Old Bernard's departure. He is a fantastic writer (too bad the Times kept sending him to new music concerts, which is where the problems began. But I digress). Had the Times Co. been more resourceful, innovative, creative, or any other synonymous word or phrase, then this whole mess could've been avoided. Trimming the "fat" off of the arts section is like cutting off your pinky finger--your hand still functions well, but it looks like shit.

As for your second point, you're right. If everyone wrote well, we'd be forced to emerge from our mothers' basements. Fortunately for us, music is stupid-difficult to write about and there will always be adjectival, metaphoric, what-have-you gibberish to parse.

But let me make it clear: we DON'T want critics to be fired. We value them and their service very much.


Aside. I think from now on, whenever a critic gets fired due to their employer's stupid and stodgy mismanagement, this'll be the accompanying painting.

anzu said...

Fantastic writer? I'm going to have to take your word for it, since I've only started paying attention to reviews fairly recently--maybe last two or three years?

I have mixed feelings about this as well. I mean, yes, it's bad, but on the other hand, in many reviews I've read of his in the past year or so, he just didn't seem like he was enjoying himself anymore. I don't expect to agree with critics all of the time, nor do I expect them to like everything they hear or always write cheery reviews, but the one thing I wish they'd do is enjoy themselves/their jobs a bit more. It's not a critic's job necessarily to bring in audiences or to be a prophet and convert readers, (though let's face it; reviews often can and do help draw audiences and drum up interest.) but don't they want to share their love for the genre? Maybe Holland's earlier reviews from a few years back were different, but he sounded like the classic curmudgeon in most of the recent stuff I've read. Heck, I couldn't even tell whether he enjoyed writing.

Also, it wasn't just new music that he had "problems" with--he sometimes wasn't fair in his review of younger people (as I posted in one of my entries), and he calls Nielsen something like north of good and considerably south of great. Nielsen is hardly new music these days. Also, if he really feels like Nielsen is not up to par, fine, I'd respectfully disagree with that opinion, but he didn't support his arguments at all.

I grant that this might be more of a format (i.e. word limit) thing and less a problem with him. Which is odd, too, b/c now with the web format, the idea of word limits seems almost obsolete. And indeed, I've seen movie reviews in the NYT that range from 400 words to close to 1000. I don't see why they can't do this for classical music.

That said, the one-critic-per-paper trend is sad, indeed. At least the NYT let him stay till old age, unlike several of these other papers that have downsized their classical music critic.

Ok, I just did something else in the middle of writing this, so apologies if this post is rambly or makes no sense. I'm too tired to read it over.

Sator Arepo said...


Thanks for your continued thoughtful comments. I remember that Nielsen column, too. Feelings, as always, are mixed.