Public Displays of Aggression
This isn't really the place for this conversation, but ACD over at Sounds & Fury doesn't allow commenting in his house, presumably out of fear that the "proles" — which is to say, you and I — might scribble on the walls with crayons. So, faute de mieux en effet, here we be.
Mr. D has his knickers in a twist over my suggestion that Alan Rich's vile 2006 bitch-slapping of music critics Adam Baer and Chris Pasles might not have been, y'know, his finest hour. Yet in one of those wonderfully self-refuting moments of which he is himself a connoisseur, ACD makes my point for me by adding "(whoever they might be)." The fact that Baer and Pasles cast such comparatively small shadows upon the musical-critical landscape is precisely what makes the act of going after them — and doing it in such a bloodthirsty fashion — so small, and so unworthy.
Bernheimer, now — Bernheimer is another story. Whatever your views on the merits of Rich's 100-year crusade against Bernheimer, there's no denying that the powerful, Pulitzer Prize-winning chief music critic of the Los Angeles Times was at any rate a target worthy of his efforts. Bernheimer had an enormous influence on the cultural life of Southern California for a very long time. If you felt, as Alan did — and felt passionately, as only Alan can — that that influence was malign, then it became a moral imperative (and, let's face it, probably a pleasure as well) to combat it tooth and nail. But Adam Baer, the young freelancer? You've gotta be kidding me.
The inability to distinguish between those two kinds of aggressiveness has always been a flaw in Rich's writing, and it's a flaw that ACD's chest-beating paeans to "courage" and "hair-mussing" and "offensiveness" share in spades. To put it another way, Alan's willingness to say whatever is on his mind, regardless of consequences, comes in two flavors (both in print and in person). One is courage, properly understood; the other is merely thuggishness. I think it's important to celebrate the first while deploring the second.