AV Club Milwaukee, RIP

Sat Nov 09 2013

At a time like this I really wish I’d hung onto that final copy of Vital Source. I’ve wished that before, though. The last page of it was all Matt Wild ranting about how the music scene here sucked and he was quitting his band because the only people who came to shows were friends who bitched if you didn’t put them on the guest list, or something like that. I always liked that little column, but after reading that tirade I wanted to find Matt and throw a shoe at him or something. This is how you want to end Vital Source’s glorious run? Just because your shitty band (I never saw Holy Mary Motor Club and have no idea if they were any good) never got famous, you decide to tear down the whole Milwaukee scene? As an idealistic moron myself, I hadn’t yet gotten to the point where I could look at the art of writing in a purely rhetorical sense, and I was just starting to feel like I was becoming immersed in this scene and discovering all these incredible Milwaukee bands (whatever happened to Wooden Robot??).

So, I was pissed off. The funny thing about getting pissed off is that it sometimes inspires you to action. I was determined to prove Matt Wild wrong, even though he'd never know it. I decided that this here blog would become the new source for local music coverage and I started consuming said music voraciously. I suspect a lot of people thought I had become one of those guys that Matt likes to make fun of, who blindly defend any and all things Milwaukee because they're MILWAUKEE, the desperate defensiveness of the not-quite-big city folk. I wasn't really like that, but most people are either cynical or clueless and don't give a shit about the local music scene, much less read what some melodramatic blogger has to say about it.

So, You-Phoria did not, in fact, become the new beacon of local music coverage that I had envisioned. To this day I can rarely even convince my friends to come out and see local bands play. It might've had something to do with the fact that I persisted in obsessing over Phish and U2 on the blog, or possibly some negative reactions to things I said early on about Elusive Parallelograms or Group Of The Altos, back when people used to comment on articles on the internet. Or, maybe my writing just didn't connect with people, or maybe I just don't know how to sell myself or dazzle people with photos and videos and such. I'm just a writer, sadly. Then one day I was reading some comments on some AV Club article, and then-City Editor Steve Hyden remarked to someone there that he was always looking for more writers to cover the local scene, so I emailed him. To my utter amazement, he told me he was "familiar" with my blog. Holy crap, Steve Hyden is aware that I exist? So I pitched him a review, which he then referred to the incoming City Editor, Matt Wild.

Are you shitting me? I thought to myself. The guy who lambasted the music scene here as hopeless is now going to be the editor of the fucking Milwaukee AV Club?? I had a brief moment of panic, recalling that I had once made a nasty comment on some snarky review Matt had written about Summerfest. How could my timing possibly be any worse? The soon-to-be-former editor was "familiar" with my blog, and now he's leaving for bigger and better things; the new guy probably already hates me and definitely hates Milwaukee. I'm doomed. The city is doomed.

History has shown that I am comically bad at predicting the future. I like it that way. I like surprises. I'm comfortable with the fact that my first impressions are usually wrong. I have pretty much based my life on having faith that whatever comes along, I can manage. Everything I've ever accomplished I've learned on the fly. I've never gotten a job because I had any experience; I've basically just charmed my way in. Well, except the pizza delivery years. Where the hell was I going with this? Oh yeah, I was obviously wrong about Matt Wild. He's easily the best editor I've ever worked with, and not just because he doesn't unnecessarily change or remove things from my brilliant works of art. There have been plenty of things I've turned in to him hastily and then read online and realized that with just a handful of small changes, he made me look smarter than I actually am. This will sound incredibly egotistical, but most editors I've worked with, I should've been editing them. Working with Matt has made me a better writer without a doubt. I think the best way to put it is that I have to constantly check myself to be sure I don't sound too much like him. That's how much admiration I have for him as a writer: I catch myself unconsciously emulating him. Yikes, it hurts to admit that.

It's been a tough twenty-some hours since I learned that the Milwaukee AV Club is shutting down. I don't know how I'm going to keep doing Linky McLinkster without the AV Club events calendar, for one thing. I don't know how I'm going to function without that thing. I'm a little concerned that without Matt's ill-advised charity in granting my requests to review, oh, say, The Moody Blues, I might end up foolishly buying a ticket to such a godawful show. But I'm not overly concerned about losing the commentary on music and our city in general that Matt has steadily been providing more and more of during his tenure at the AV Club. You don't honestly think that just because The Onion is going away, that's the last you'll hear of Matt, do you? If anything, I'm bursting with excitement about what he can do without the corporate overlords looking over his shoulder.

I'm also not worried about the local music scene, because we writers and music fans haven't stopped caring about it. We don't need The fucking Onion. We built this really cool thing with the AV Club that really had absolutely nothing to do with The Onion. Well, yeah, except for that whole thing where they paid for shit. But seriously, fuck The Onion. They emailed me yesterday with some stupid article about Cool Runnings as the subject, and all I could think was, thanks! How relevant. I hope The Onion dies. For it to allow this amazing bastion of culture to spring up and then kill it off is ridiculous. But to be sad about it is useless. Instead, let's be pissed off. And then, in the words of Wild, "Following a night of binge drinking, let's start something new, Milwaukee."

Comments on this article from long ago

2013-11-09 lisa
already looking forward to what's next, cal! thanks to you and everyone at the a.v. club for your contributions to the local scene.
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