ALMOST FAMOUS: Adventures In Rock Criticism


EDITOR’S NOTE: Recently, Magnet asked me to do one of those Behind The Music-style navel-gazers about some of the cover stories I wrote for the magazine back in the day, with all the behind-the-scenes sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll dirt and gossip that could not be printed in a family indie-rock magazine back in the less-permissive 20th Century. The hard copy came out around Christmas, and last week they posted it to their new-and-improved web site/blog/thingee. I have included this ginormous photo of me, suitable for framing or dartboard-use, which they assured me was going to be the cover. Instead, they went with some guy named Nick with a child molester mustache. Can’t help but think this strategic miscalculation will cost them dearly at the newsstand. But then, I’ve been wrong before.

BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR MAGNET As Donald Rumsfeld once said, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Truer words have never been spoken, although in many corners of the world, Rumsfeld is regarded as a valania-collage25rcr320.gifwar criminal, so take them with a pinch of salt. Be that as it may, it’s the latter, the unknown unknowns—things you didn’t even know that you didn’t know—that concern us today. None of the gruesome facts I’m about to reveal to you rise to the level of high crimes. Mostly they are low misdemeanors, sins of convenience, vanity, venality and high blood-alcohol levels that, taken as a whole, fall short of the spirit of generosity toward your fellow man we associate with likeability. In other words, they either made me or the people I was writing about look bad, so the powers that be decided to excise them from various cover stories I wrote for the magazine over the years and lock them in a basement vault at MAGNET HQ with a time-release lock set for 2077, when all the primary figures would be reasonably expected to have left this mortal coil. We got the idea from the Kennedy assassination.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to 2077: I got bored. Turns out waiting for 75 years to pass is a lot longer than I thought. Besides, you bitches love this tawdry tell-all shit about Sebadoh ‘94 and Jeff Tweedy ‘99. Which brings me to my final qualifier in this intro. A lot of this happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—the 1990s, to be exact. Record companies were still capable of selling CDs, marketing budgets were flush, and airfare was cheap. It was a smarter time, but we worried about dumber things: whether the president got a blowjob, who could refrain from self-abuse the longest (Jerry, George, Kramer or Elaine) and how many Bud Lights it takes to journey to the center of Robert Pollard’s suitcase of songs. MORE

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