Eating Paste

My brother recently got me a free subscription to Paste Magazine, a “music, film, and culture” magazine, with the “damning with faint praise” comment of, “Well, I like the music sampler CD that comes with each issue.” I have now received two issues of this magazine, and am prepared to pass judgment.

The content of the magazine is, well, pretty bad.

When you have a magazine that devotes half a page to this “poet” (anchored by a really terrible photograph of generic white indie dude with glasses performing a hadouken), you have some serious problems. The “poetry” produced by this gentleman has a striking resemblance to the dialogue of the Orz from Star Control — the crucial difference is that the dialogue of the Orz happened to be attached to a really fun game, whereas the page of “Reveler @ Eyelevel” merely has a ton of broken links under the “*And who wrote these riots?*” heading. Shtick does not equal substance, although I suppose it can get you your 15 minutes.

The overall aim of the magazine appears to be to supply busy or indecisive people with cultural sound bites to be dispensed at cocktail parties. The neatly-summarized “for fans of” in article summaries provides the easily-swayed with not only something to be purchased, but another name to be dropped into a “what does XYZ sound like?” or “what are you listening to/watching/reading?” conversation. The ordained soundtrack of the New Yorker crowd right now includes folk, singer/songwriter, electronic, and “accessible” rap and hip-hop — accordingly, the pages of Paste are filled to the brim with not simply reviews and advertising for such, but breathlessly-worded justifications for their superiority and importance. This article, and the rest of the hilarious Stuff White People Like site, is a pretty good summary of the Paste mentality.

I think my decline in interest in following music really accelerated around the time when I saw the term “electro booty” used in an article to describe a genre of music. “Electro booty” is the taxonomic equivalent of undocumentation — a phrase that is so meaningless as to be completely useless as a descriptor. When something has been dissected into such meaningless classifications (or classifications meaningful only to a select few), people have lost sight of the most important distinction in music (or, about anything, really) that really matters: whether or not it’s any good, and whether or not you $*&!ing like it. Needless to say, Paste often wallows in this genre-based navel gazing — recitations of a set of adjectives and artist names associated with each particular micro-genre, with no noteworthy commentary or insight.

So, at the end of the day, what I’m really left with is a monthly sampler CD that I can stick into my computer and enjoy for a little while. Not bad (particularly for the price of “free”), but certainly not what it could be. Still, thanks, Ray!*


(* I feel compelled to spell this out, because otherwise, my brother will think that I’m ripping on him or his music tastes when that’s really not the case. He still bears psychic scars from when I mockingly asked him if he cried when he listened to a certain emo band…)

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1 Comment

  1. I’m touched by your concern for my frail, frail psyche.

    Paste is kind of like the print version of Pitchfork, but with maybe half the snide “cooler-than-thou” putdowns in the reviews. It’s useful if you have an emusic subscription — it at least gives you a starting point for browsing, especially if you need to burn the rest of your monthly downloads in the next 15 minutes.

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