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Perhaps through infernal or divine intervention (take your pick), Funhausen has received a full-page review replete with photo in the August issue of The Wire. When the editorial office contacted me a few weeks back, my adrenaline raced. “Funhausen is on heavy rotation in Wire HQ” the email said. Holy shit! I was on vacation and they needed a photo. Luckily, I happened to have a flash drive in my backpack that ensconces various ephemera from the last few years of my life, and dug out an image of my current band in which I had to disappear my band-mate via Photoshop. Then, I began tamping down my exultation big-time, and actually got to the point where I dreaded reading the review. You see, I have a thick skin for creating art in an unforgiving and typically disinterested world, but a thin skin for bearing the opinions of others about the work. Praise often makes me uncomfortable, and the underscoring of shortcomings by outsiders initially makes my face hot. As it turns out, The Wire review is a mixture of both, and I suppose I should be gratified that it was reviewed at all by what has been for me the most influential publication about music(s) bar none.
Which brings me to another story. I tried to be a music writer once, and actually had a brief stint writing CD reviews for The Wire around 1992 or '93, something like that, I have the issues in my archives somewhere. I had mailed some clippings of reviews I'd written for a local mag to Tony Herrington, the editor at the time, and he literally called me on the phone from the UK. He said, "Sure, you can write for the magazine." I was in shock, definitely a case of be careful of what you wish for. So, over the course of 3-to-4 issues, I wrote reviews of things like Boredoms, Zorn, Gate, Dirty Three, etc. Frankly, it was a terrifying experience. I felt such overwhelming, self-imposed pressure to match the magazine’s erudite and ultra-knowledgeable style related to all things off the beaten path; to appear that I knew what I was writing about when, in fact, I was still learning about all of these wonderful sonic options that had eluded me during some very dark years of drugged out isolation and bad craziness. So, I over compensated, and each review I wrote became more and more abstruse and indecipherable, as if forcing the hapless reader to read sentences over and over to figure them out was the mark of sound and cogent criticism. Finally, Tony himself emailed me that my reviews were becoming too esoteric. I thought, "Wow, too esoteric for The Wire? There's a dubious accomplishment for sure." So, I stopped submitting with great relief, and haven't written a critical word about music ever since. I don't relate this out of any type of recrimination. Absolutely not. I needed to stop doing it. I couldn't handle being that type of writer. It had also gotten to the point where I was much too self-conscious when doing even recreational listening, ruminating, "Hmmmm, what is this referencing? What lineage is this part of? What metaphorical angle could I use to describe it if I had to?" Every once in awhile I pull out one of those reviews, read it, and ask myself "what the fuck was I trying to say?" A very bad sign.
And now, all these years later, things have come full circle.