Sunday, March 17, 2013

Elegy for a Phoenix...

It seems crazy, but The Boston Phoenix has abruptly shut down and scattered it's staff to the winds sans severance. Sad. And a serious blow to arts, culture and investigative journalism here in the Boston are, perhaps, dare I say it? a mortal blow. By way of full disclosure let me add that my first published by-line in Boston was a co-written article on vampire movies for The Boston Phoenix in 1991. My long suffering collaborator and I snarked it up for 650 words divided a small sum between us and were off on an improbable adventure as local freelance film writers...we had a good run in part because The Phoenix gave us a good solid shove in the right direction. It is a publication that was vitally necessary and exactly what if anything will replace it cannot be predicted with confidence. In the past twenty years or so, I've had a rueful front row seat on the decline and fall of paper-driven news media in Boston. Hell I started this obscure little blog in 2004 specifically as an outlet for my own admittedly marginal arts writing as a response to the obliteration of the local freelance market. It has been a process that has worked from the "outside in", relentlessly snuffing marginal paper-publications (exp "The Boston Comic News") until at least the inner ring has been penetrated and The Phoenix has gone for the terminal dirt nap. Of course the internet made all this happen, but then the internet is a thing that is viewed, it is not really read at least not in depth...and it is the act of reading that is enduring strength of all the dailies and weeklies out there, even the blustery old Boston Herald. Moreover a host of able reporters and reviewers have all been put out on the streets at a time when their skills have never ever been more needed but the cash value of those skills has never been lower. I'm gonna miss the Phoenix, it was always a good harbinger when Channel Zero could rate a positive mention in those paper pages. Boston's arts scene comes in for too little coverage as it is, the Phoenix always tried to dig down a little deeper than say The Globe (whose idea of cutting edge seems to stop at the "goings on" at the A.R.T.). This is bad news all around for anyone trying to do anything new and different in da Hub. Moreover trimmers and porch-climbers on Beacon Hill and elsewhere sleep a little sounder tonight without The Phoenix looking over their shoulders. That mah frenz is "change", and at the moment it is a Bad Thing at least until we can collectively harness it and set it to work in service of a better agenda.

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