The Alt Weekly We Deserve: An Events Listings Call to Arms

Now is the time for all good event marketers to come to the aid of his/her party.

Is anyone reading The Phoenix anymore?  For like, entertainment shit I mean?  I guess they still print reviews, I know that, but they also just make like, so many weird mistakes.  A couple of weeks ago, they said that “Mount Washington” was playing a Modest Mouse after party (you already know this, but for anyone not from Portland reading this, the band is Mouth Washington) and somehow mislabeled a picture of a regional band as Danzig (I love that so much, by the way… how can you reconcile working as a music editor and not being able to identify Glenn fucking Danzig from pretty much everyone else, ever?  That’s like working for The Hollywood Reporter and not being able to identify Tom Hanks. Anyway.) and they managed to justify printing a two page article about Warren Haynes under the headline “Local Music.” I mean it’s like they hired a new temp secretary and she doesn’t have any new labels or folders so she’s just dumping things into the folder that seems most relevant… “hm… ok, Warren Haynes is playing in a LOCAL venue, so… LOCAL MUSIC!  The filing is DONE, sir!”   

I have to point out by the way that I rarely read The Phoenix.  The aforementioned atrocities were pointed out to me by Bob from Safe/Word and Sterling from Sterling Black, who I bumped into while retrieving a breakfast sandwich and they were kind enough to compromise their public image, risking being seen speaking to me to point all of that out and that is just in that one issue. Good eye, guys. But I’ve noticed things before.  For instance, the time last winter when I had just gotten here and was looking for something to do and I went to consult The Phoenix thinking, oh, ok, it’ll be just like The Stranger from Seattle, and I can trust that everything going on here in town will be listed on their web site, so… and then I went to the site (don’t even get me started on the two Phoenix sites, one of which comes up first in google results and DOESN’T work, and one that comes up second and does) and there were no listings, and there was just a link for me to download A PDF VERSION OF THE PAPER to read the listings, and when I finally got to them, there were like four things listed, and one of them was a ‘from away’ Pink Floyd cover band listed as “local comedy.” SICK BURN, Phoenix!  Oh, wait.  That’s not a burn, that is a mistake. Also if it wasn’t a mistake, FUCK YOU I LOVE PINK FLOYD but also, you know, cover band act of terrorism, etc… I mean I wish I had thought of that joke. I know, I KNOW, it wasn’t a joke! Ok, I’m getting off track. The point is that I thought I had moved to a fucking ghost town, which went against everything that everyone told me about this place (and against what has ultimately proven to be true about this place).

I kept a copy of this listing because I knew this day would come.

I kept a copy of this listing because I knew this day would come.

Also… and I’m really going deep here with you guys, so don’t judge me: I was very, VERY lonely last winter, thinking that there just was nothing to do, ever. I went a little cray-cray. I almost left  AND WHERE WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT ME, PORTLAND?!?!

Well, ok fine, you’d probably be either just the same or better off, but that is beside the point. Do you always have to be such a dick? You really know how to suck the air out of a room, you know that?

OK, so anyway, here’s the problem, and there is one: Portland has no comprehensive music and event listings. I try every week, but it’s so much work that with my full time job, band stuff and my freelance gig, I had to go down to just the weekend guide, and I’m not even being truly comprehensive because I don’t list any bands that aren't based in or around Portland. I mean, this is a town that doesn't have a cobbler (how are you people getting your shoes fixed? Report to me in the comments) and it doesn't have any comprehensive music listings. How are we even dealing with life? And, no, The Phoenix, listing what is happening at Thompson’s Point and just regurgitating what you receive from venues that have their act together like The State, etc., is not really doing music listings. Yes, those things need to be listed. But so does everything else.

We all know The Phoenix got sold and ended up losing its mentally and emotionally engaged editor first to Dig and then to Dispatch, but Dispatch and The Bollard can only do so much with a monthly publication schedule - listings aren’t the domain of monthlies, you can’t shoehorn a four times a month deadline into a monthly deadline and even if it was that simple, where would your readers be; and The Phoenix sued Dig out of town. Nor are listings the domain of people like Holly Nunan or Aimsel Ponti, who go above and beyond to keep everyone up to date on events, but can’t truly “bookkeep” listings the way a weekly can.  Event listings, they are 100% the domain of fucking alternative weeklies.  They always have been.  

But let’s back it up one more step: why, The Phoenix, did you run Dig out of town if you weren’t willing to do the work that would need to be done in their absence?  Are you a republican political candidate?  Are you one of those spouses who, the moment you marry your partner, refuses to give any affection or sex to him or her but ALSO requires strict monogamy from him or her?  No, you’re just threatened because you don’t want to put the money and work in to be good and you don’t want anyone else to be better than you, so you use your power and money to keep players out of the game. And our laws support that!  America!  Look, any way you slice it, The Phoenix, the onus is on you to either do right by this town’s musicians, artists and venues, or to let someone else do it.  

But you won’t.  I know you won’t, you know you won’t, so where does that leave Portland’s events-based arts scene?  I took stock today of the 10 albums I’ve reviewed for Dispatch since I started writing for them, and all but two of them have been excellent albums. I mean world class stuff that could go major tomorrow and fit right in. Do you even fucking realize what you’re passing up, The Phoenix? It’s like we’ve baked for you a beautiful apple pie from Maine grown apples and organic whole wheat and local butter churned by a fifth generation Maine farmer from a sixth generation Maine cow's milk, baked with our own hands right here in a downtown kitchen built from local oak trees, but because it doesn’t have the name Sara Lee stamped across it, you can’t TRUST THAT IT WILL BE WHAT IT SAYS IT IS, which is taking a risk, and risks, to those who are stingy with their dollars, are anathema to American Business. I mean, christ, guys, what the fuck are you even SAYING about Warren Haynes that hasn't already been said a million times over? You know how many articles I read about him when I lived in Asheville, from whence he hails?  Like, a zillion. Aren’t you even interested in doing something more than regurgitating a press release? How do you even look at yourself in the mirror when you wake up in the morning?    

You’re a part of us, The Phoenix, whether you realize it or not, and every time you print an article about “local music” that profiles someone from elsewhere, every time you can’t be bothered to double check the spelling of a local band’s name, you slap the mic right out of our hands. The message you are sending to the world (and the tourists who spend money here, and the people who LIVE HERE who have no idea what’s going on because that’s just not central to their lives) is that Portland doesn’t have any music culture worth writing about, and that is so fucking sad not just because you don’t believe in us, but because it is absolutely not true. I keep saying this and everyone is always so surprised, but Portland has an incredible, world class music scene that rivals that of any big city in America, period, full stop. We need help.  You, The Phoenix, have distribution and a major label name to get people to pay attention.  And you want them to pay attention to things from out of town?  Um, ok. I mean, if the goal is to get circulation/ad sales up so you can afford a writer with a voice, that’s never going to happen unless you help to make the scene bigger across the board. Ugh, it’s not about that though, is it.  How’s your CEO, by the way? Was he able to buy that third summer home he had his eye on?     

I’ve been going to concerts for 25 years in cities all over the place. I pay $12 a month to host this web site and spend at least $20 a week on local music. For someone who is always broke, that’s a lot of money. I spend hours working on this blog and making sure I haven’t left anyone out when I do my guide each week. I do it for the love of the game, The Phoenix, but I’m no martyr. The moment someone - anyone - figures it out and offers me the chance to do the local music listings for them for money, I will come for you, The Phoenix, and I will prevail. I will take what is rightfully yours because you’ve neglected it and let it go to seed. So fucking figure it out, The Phoenix, and fast, because you won’t always be on top.  Where there is opportunity, there is someone coming to take advantage of it and you have to know I’m not the only one thinking about this issue - everyone in event marketing in Portland is, and someone will figure out how to do it without getting sued out of town. Frankly, nobody wants to have to do the listings, but you leave us no choice, The Phoenix.  You leave us no choice.


*Kicks over metaphorical trashcan*